2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs yet in a position to answer the questions I asked on the 30th August (vide page 3624) regarding the assessment of goods by the Customs?
– The information is now available. The honorable senator asked -
To - these questions the following answers have been supplied : -
Debate resumed from 7 th September (vide page 4263), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.-The proposed survey of a railway to connect Kalgoorlie with Port Augusta is naturally of great interest to the representatives of Western Australia, who are, therefore, inclined to dwell at some length on the advantages which the construction of a line of railway over the proposed route would confer upon the Commonwealth. I shall,however, confine my remarks, within, narrow limits; in the first place, because I have already published my views in a newspaper called ‘the Traveller, and the proprietors of that journal have been good enough to supply each member of the Senate with a copy of the issue in which my article appears. I understand that a great many honorable Senators have done me the honour of reading my exposition of the case. Therefore it would be a work of supererogation to go over the ground again. The second reason why I intend to speak briefly on this occasion is that I think that honorable members have now made up their minds as to how they will vote on the Bill. The pros and cons have been fairly discussed, and it is not likely that any long speech, however able, would turn a vote. At this stage of the session the obligation devolves upon us to expedite the passage of business, so that as many as possible of the important measures now on the notice-paper may be dealt with before this Parliament concludes its labours. Those who advocate the expenditure of £20,000 for the survey of a route for a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta do so with the more confidence because ‘ Australia is now enjoying universal and unexampled prosperity, each of the State Treasurers with the exception of the Western Australian Treasurer, having announced a surplus - in one case amounting to as much as £800,000 - while the Commonwealth Treasurer stated in his Budget that the revenue of the past year is the largest we have yet received.
– We cannot use the surpluses of the States.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.No ; but the Commonwealth revenue is now larger than it has been previously. The Government have made certain proposals for the expenditure of money on what are clearly mere experiments. Among these is the proposal to set apart £500,000 for the payment of bounties to encourage certain sorts of production. Without traversing the Bounties Bill on the present occasion, though I hope to have something to say on. it later, I think that the success of some of its provision is at least doubtful, certain industries having been set down for encouragement in regard to the prospects of which there is perhaps insufficient knowledge. It has also been resolved to expend £8,000 on an investigation of the possibilities of trawling on our coasts.
– That expenditure was not unanimously approved.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.No; but it was approved. . I shall not care whether the Bill now before the Sen ate is unanimously approved so long as it is passed.
– Does the honorable Senator regard the expenditure upon the proposed survey as experimental ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I am about to show that it is not experimental, and will have to be incurred sooner or later. Therefore, there is no chance of the money being wasted, which may occur in connexion with the other projects to which I have referred. We also discussed the question of wireless telegraphy, and more or less cheerfully voted £10,000 without the Ministry having afforded the slightest information as to where it was to be expended. Last session we voted £25,000 towards the erection of a Queen Victoria memorial.
– And I could not get a division of the Senate on the proposal.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That was a proposal of which I approved ; but it was based on a pure question of sentiment. There was no commercial advantage to be obtained. Yet the Senate voted £25,000 for the purpose.
– It was a disgrace to thesenate.
– Order. The honorable senator must not reflect on a vote of the Senate, and I call upon, him to with - draw the statement.
– I withdraw the expression.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I have merely mentioned a few items which have occurred to me in order to show that at certain times we have voted sums of money for purposes other than the immediate utilitarian interests of the people. When we come to the question of surveying the proposed route of the transcontinental railway, we must recognise that this is not a mere experiment which may endin the loss of the £20,000. I believe that every member of the Senate, whether he is opposed to the survey or not, will agree with me when I say that at some time or other that railway, connecting the east with the west, must be constructed.
– The point is does the honorable senator regard the passage of this Bill as committing the Parliament to the construction of that particular line?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.No. I have told honorable senators time and again that if any honorable senator thinks that a vote for a survey would commit him in the slightest degree to the construction of the railway he can state at this stage that he simply wants to get the fullest information before deciding whether it is advisable to construct the line or not. I desire honorable senators to clearly understand that if they vote for this Bill their vote will never be quoted against them by the representatives of Western Australia. In other words, if they vote for a survey, they will in no way be committed to the construction of the railway.
– That is not the view of Sir John Forrest.
- Sir John Forrest has distinctly contradicted the statement which was made previously, that a vote for the survey would commit members of Parliament to the construction of the railway, and his assurance ought to be accepted. The survey is one which must be undertaken sooner or later.
– Not necessarily that particular survey.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There can only be one line joining Port Augusta With Kalgoorlie.
– And not necessarily constructed by the Commonwealth.
– Exactly. It is a railway which will have to be constructed, and the Commonwealth, I feel sure, will not grudge an inquiry when the construction of the railway is a matter of the greatest importance from very manyaspects of Federal life. I believe, however, that the railway will be constructed bv the Commonwealth Government’ within a comparatively short time, whatever the present attitude of the Senate may be. As we begin to take a wider outlook when we come to, as Hamilton .said, “think contimentally,” we shall realise that the construction of the railway will be justified, not merely from the joint Federal, Defence, Postal, and commercial stand-points, but from each separate point of view. That alone should incline honorable senators to vote for an inquiry at a cost of not more than ,-£20,000, concerning a line which must be constructed sooner or later. I need not point out at any length that when Western Australia joined the Union the Federal aspect was the only one from which she could for many years gain an advantage. At that time no one pointed out any large material advantage which would result from the throwing in of her lot with the eastern States. The immense material advantage to each of the other States was the fact that each Stats would have the whole of Australia as a market for its produce, instead of being limited to .”‘rs own market. From that point of view, th Federation has been of enormous advantage to New South Wales and Victoria. There is not the slightest doubt that if we study the returns as to the movements of industry we shall realize that Melbourne and Sydney are becoming the great distributing centres, and, what is more, the great manufacturing centres of the Commonwealth. They have this advantage, that they can now manufacture for the whole of Australia, whereas previously high tariff walls shut one State out from the markets of the other States.
– Except New South Wales.
– Victoria, of course, had the advantage of the markets of New South Wales, but the latter was shut out from every other State. Therefore, from the industrial point of view, New South Wales and Victoria have gained, perhaps, more largely from the Federation than have any other States. But when we come to consider the case of a State like Queensland we find that in 1900 sugar was worth £1% or ,£20 a ton. Shortly after Federation a most unexampled fall in theo price of sugar took place. Bounty-fed sugar, 88 per cent., grown by the Cartel in Germany, was selling at Bremen at about £5 to £6 a ton for three or four years after Federation. If it had not been for Federation - and even allowing the Kanakas to work there without let or hindrance - the sugar industry of Queensland would have been absolutely ruined. For many years the State had been producing more than she consumed, but the world’s price had never been so low before. Before Federation the internal price of sugar in Queensland remained at the world’s price, because any honorable senator can see that if a higher price could be got internally, no sugar would be exported. Queensland had to compete with the sugar producers of the world in every other State. Therefore, the protection which the sugar industry nominally had did not really exist. Queensland was in the position of having tq compete even in her own markets, and in every State of Australia, at the world’s price. If the Federation of the Colonies had not come about, the unexampled fall in the price of sugar in 1901, 1902, and 1903 would have had the effect of absolutely ruining the sugar industry in Queensland, as it practically ruined the sugar industry in the West Indies and largely ruined the sugar industry in India. In India they imposed a countervailing duty to neutralize the effect of the bonus.
– Was the sugar bounty granted to the planters of Queensland upon economic grounds, or owing to considerations of race?
– I am merely saying that, as the result of Federation, enormous benefits have been conferred upon Queensland.
– The honorable senator must admit that that was an accidental benefit. Queensland could not foresee the fall in prices.
– She could foresee that if she monopolized the whole of the Australian market her sugar growers would be benefited. She is now obtaining for her sugar from £3 to £4 per ton above the world’s price. In the first place, we allowed a rebate of the Excise duty in regard to sugar grown by white labour, and Queensland had to provide for that rebate out of her own revenue. We afterwards substituted a bonus, so that the amount payable might be debited to all the States upon a per capita basis. During the current year the States will have to contribute something like £270,000, of which Western Australia’s share willbe £18,000. Therefore, the State I represent will be paying annually an amount equivalent to that necessary to defray the cost of the proposed survey.
– Can we regard that amount as a subsidy to Queensland, or a contribution to the expenditure necessary to maintain a White Australia?
– I am speaking of the advantages which have been conferred on all the States, except Western Australia. Tasmania has been able to develop her export trade in fruit and other commodities to a much larger extent than formerly. The opening of the markets of Victoria and other States has conferred great benefit upon her primary producers, and the value of land in the northern part of the State has increased very largely. South Australia has had a most valuable market opened up to her as a result of the decreasing Tariff in Western Australia. Every State, except Western
Australia, has, in fact, gained enormously from a trade and commercial point of view as the result of Federation. We find that in 1 901 the exports to Western Australia from the eastern States were valued at £2,059,000 in 1902, at £2,046,000 ; in 1903, at £2,541,000; in 1904, at £2,650,000; and in 1905, at £2,712,000. The exports from Western Australia to the eastern States amounted to in 1901, £574,000; in 1902, £798,000; in 1903, £866,000 ; in 1904, £359,000 ; and in 1905 £811,000. Therefore, since Federation Western Australia has purchased from the eastern States commodities valued at £12,010,000, whereas the eastern States have purchased from Western Australia only £3,410,000 worth of goods. It will thus be seen that from a commercial and industrial point of view, the Federation has conferred very little advantage upon Western Australia.
– Does the honorable senator contend that in trade matters the importing State does not obtain an advantage equal to that of the exporting State.
– No ; I am merely pointing out that every State, except Western Australia, had opened up fresh markets, of which its producers were able to take full advantage. As Western Australia exports only gold and timber, she obtained no advantage from having fresh markets opened up to her. Her industries have not been sufficiently advanced to enable her to become an exporting State to any extent worth mentioning. Furthermore, noneof the bonuses and subsidies that have been granted by the Commonwealth have conferred any benefit upon Western Australia. I have already pointed out the trade advantages which the eastern States have derived.
– Surely, if the eastern States have had the advantage of a larger selling market, Western Australia has derived benefit from the fact that she has had a larger purchasing market.
– Yes, no doubt we have had the advantage of being able to obtain our produce at cheaper rates, but that is a very small matter compared with the benefit that has been conferred upon the manufacturers and producers of the other States. I have not been able to find any instance in which any benefit has been conferred upon Western Australia by subsidies granted by the Commonwealth. Messrs. Burns,Philp and Company receive a subsidy of ,£12,000 per annum in connexion with the Pacific Islands mail service. Their steamers carry on practically the whole of the trade that is done by us with the Pacific Islands. This represents a value of something like £1,000,000 annually, and is almost entirely monopolized by New South Wales and Queensland.
– The portion that comes to Queensland is not worth consider- m Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Many of the subsidized steamers call at Queensland ports,’ and that State must derive some benefit from the trade that is carried on. My honorable friend mentions the Vancouver line, which costs, I think, .£26,626 a vear, and which is of advantage to the eastern’ States. But I cannot see that Western Australia derives anything like the same advantage from it as they do because our mails, as a matter of fact, go bv. I Spreckle’s line, which runs between San Francisco and Sydney. Then we ‘have a subsidised mail service with Tasmania, amounting to £7,000 a year, towards which Western Australia contributes per capita. There is also a cable subsidy for the benefit of Tasmania, amounting to £5.600 a year, of which Western Australia pays her share.
– According to the hon)orable senator’s reasoning, if the Bums, Philp subsidy does not benefit Western Australia, the subsidy on account of the new European mail service will not benefit Queensland.
– My honorable friend is totally wrong. I have pointed out that since Federation the Commonwealth has granted bounties and paid subsidies in various! directions. I have enumerated such as I could remember, and am pointing out that Western Australia has not directly benefited from any of them.
– I do not dispute the honorable senator’s facts, but I challenge his deductions.
– These cable and mail subsidies are of great advantage to Tasmania. Western Australia, on the other hand, subsidizes steamers which run from Perth to Wyndham for a distance of 2,000 or 3,000 miles, and a mail service with the south coast. Those services are charged against transferred expenditure, and Western Australia has to pay the whole amount herself. The eastern States do not contribute anything. Then, the Commonwealth pays a subsidy of £20,000’ a year on account of Papua. The whole of the trade between the Territory and the Commonwealth, amounting to >£70>000 or ,£80,000 per annum, is done with Queensland and New South Wales. Western Australia derives no benefit from it nor has she gained anything from our acquisition of Papua. Coming to the naval subsidy of .£200,000 a year, we find that the head-quarters of the vessels are at Sydney, and that they spend a portion of their time in Melbourne, and a portion in Hobart. The squadron has never been in Western Australian waters. From a defence point of view, the States probably benefit equality, but from an in. dustrial point of view Western Australia gets nothing. The subsidy amounts to ^£200,000 a year, and the expenditure on the fleet is ,£400,000 a year. This money is freely expended in the eastern States, and is of great advantage to them from a trading point of view. Western Australia, however, derives no advantage from it. Though we have asked that the fleet should occasionally visit Western Australian waters, it has never been there yet.
– Do not men-of-war call there?
– A single cruiser occasionally calls, and that is all. Western Australia expected that, under Federation, she would receive advantages from a national aspect. The principal advantage was to be the construction of the railway to bring her closer to the eastern States, from which, the majority of the people of Western Australia have come. It was hoped that, in that way the present isolation of that State would be lessened, and that the history of Western Australia would be the same as that of Vancouver has been - that the result and natural corollary of Federation would be the construction of a connecting line of railway. I do not wish to dwell at great length on the Question of broken promises or upon the reasons that actuated the Western Australian people in ratifying the Federal compact.
– Who made any promises ? ‘
– The present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth did for one.
– Never !
– The honorable senator who interjects does not know what he is talking about.
– I know perfectly well.
– My honorable friend may know a great deal, but up to the present I have seen no evidence that he is omniscient.
– Has the Prime Minister broken his promises?
– No, he has done his best.
– Who has broken them then?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Mr. Deakin stated that the railway would be the natural corollary of the Federal compact, and that he was anxious to have the matter dealt with as early as possible. Senator Symon pointed out that it was a project dear to the heart of the people of Australia, and should be consummated at as early a date as possible.
– He meant the people of South Australia.
– He was speaking, as one of the great Federal leaders when he made that statement
– What he said was, speaking to the people of Western Australia, ‘ ‘ The project is dear to the heart of your people, as it is to my State ‘ ‘ - limiting himself to South Australia and Western Australia.
– Perhaps Senator Millen is not aware of the fact that Senator Symon came to Kalgoorlie and delivered an excellent speech in favour of Federation at the Miners’ Institute, where he urged the question from am Australian stand-point ; and one of the points upon which he was most insistent was the construction of this .line as a Federal project. We also know that the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston supported it. Sir Frederick Holder urged it as a Federal undertaking; and no one has been more insistent than the Right Honorable G. H. Reid in advocacy of the construction as well as the survey of the line. In fact, Mr. Reid has stated that from the first he has been in favour of its construction by the Federal authorities.
– I assure the honorable senator that the matter was never mentioned in New South Wales until after Federation was accomplished.
– Nor in Victoria either.
– It is useless to say that, because there was a great deal of discussion about the matter in Western Australia, and’ never a speech was delivered. there in advocacy of Federation in which it was not urged that .the result of it would be the construction of the railway. While that discussion was proceeding, and while the Federal leaders whom I have quoted, and others, were urging that the construction of the railway would be a natural corollary of Federation, not one single individual of amy importance as a Federal man - nor one individual of any kind, so far as I am aware - ever raised his voice in protest against the proposal. Senator Styles laughs. He is getting hysterical. Perhaps he had better go outside and put a wet towel round his head.
– Protest against what? Because irresponsible persons said that they were in favour of the railway?
Senator STANIFORTH’ SMITH.Perhaps the honorable senator was one of the “great Federal leaders “ who protested. If so, his protest never got into the press - unless perhaps it was reported in the Williamstown newspaper ! But I insist that the matter was raised as a vital issue in connexion with the question of whether Western Australia should enter the Federation or not. No public man - and I challenge contradiction on this point - raised his voice in protest against it. When the referendum was taking place in Western Australia the press was flooded with speeches and articles on the subject.
– As to the honorable senator’s challenge - why did Mr. Vosper leave the Billites and go over to the antiBillites
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Well, as to Mr. Vosper, I desire to say nothing. I follow the ancient principle - ale mortuis nil nisi bonum. Perhaps he had reasons for what he did of which we are not aware. But when he came to the gold-fields and advocated the anti-Federal cause he was repudiated by the miners, although he was a great popular leader; and the 95 per cent, of those who voted infavour of Federation did so in the belief that tHe construction of the railway would be trie necessary consequence. I say here that th”ey were absolutely entitled to that belief in the absence of any opposition by any public man.
– We never heard a. word about it.
– The honorable senator may not have heard about it, or he may have forgotten it, because he has been principally interested in the affairs of his own State. In Western Australia, the construction of the transcontinental railway was the paramount issue submitted to the electors. It was the issue which resulted in Federation being consummated.
– We never heard anything of the proposal in Tasmania.
– It is all very well for Senator Dobson to protest, but the fact remains that the proposal was repeatedly mentioned in the columns of the press of the eastern States. Naturally those States wished to know whether or not Western Australia, which comprises about one-third of the area of the Continent, intended to enter the Federation. Consequently the reasons to which I refer were published in full in the newspapers of the eastern States.
– They must have been published in verv small type.
– I do not wish to cast the slightest reflection upon honorable senators. I honestly believe that that are actuated bv a desire to do what is best in the interests of the Commonwealth. But I believe that they are unconsciously biased in this matter, and that in the early days of Federation they are prone to think provincially instead o’f nationally.
– In the east the people are biased a bit. but not in the west.
– I quite agree with Senator Trenwith that in the eastern States the people are biased, and in no State more than that of Victoria. No newspapers have been more unfair in their attitude towards this project than have those of Victoria, which have not hesitated to describe it as “ the desert railway.” Further, I make bold to say that no speech delivered bv any honorable senator in favour of the proposed undertaking has even been fairly reported by a Victorian newspaper, whilst every address in opposition to it has been publishe’d almost verbatim. I would further point out that those associations which view the question from a national stand-point recognise that the construction of the transcontinental railway is necessary in the interests of Australia. T am sure that Senator Millen entertains a very high opinion of the General Council of the Chambers of Commerce, representing, as it does, the commercial community in every State of the Commonwealth. The deliberations of that body, from the standpoint of commerce and industry, are worthy of the very fullest consideration. In this connexion, I wish to emphasize the fact that on the 4th April last, that body unanimously affirmed the following resolution : -
That it is in the interests of the Commonwealth that the survey of the trans-continental railway route should be immediately undertaken.
Its members were of opinion that the survey of the line was absolutely necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth. Further, at the annual meeting of the Commercial Travellers’ Association of Australasia - a body of men who possess a very accurate knowledge of the conditions of the Commonwealth, and who, to a large extent, have had their State prejudices obliterated by travel - not only advocated the survey of the line, but unanimously approved its construction. I have no desire to again traverse the arguments which I used in the article which I contributed to the Traveller. Honorable senators are already familiar with them. I merely wish to point out that in voting large sums of money for various projects of an experimental character, in the hope that certain industries will be established, we have already sanctioned expenditure which, in some instances will probably yield no return. All that I ask is that the Commonwealth shall vote a sum not exceeding .£20,000 to enable a survey of the route of this railway to be undertaken. The item is not a recurring one, and in view of the fact that rightly or wrongly the people o’f Western Australia were induced to believe when Federation was consummated, that this line would be constructed, they are entitled to the survey which it is now proposed to make. We must recognise that Federation not only postulates a community of interests, but a community of obligations, and seeing that Western Australia has derived no benefit whatever from Federation from a commercial and industrial stand-point. I share the opinion that if this Parliament refuses to sanction a survey of the route of the proposed line, its action will be regarded as the greatest repudiation of our young national life. Western Australia was induced to enter the Federation on what was considered to be a.n honorable understanding ; but that understanding has not been carried out. T urge the Senate to accent the proposal to expend -£20,000 on a survey : and I mav say that every Commonwealth Ministry has made such a survey part of their policy - has regarded this as a work necessary in the interests of the Federation.
– Hear, hear.
– Will Senator Smith tell us why ?
– I am sure that no Ministry has had any ulterior motive. Each Ministry, whether Labour, Free-trade, or Protectionist, has regarded this as a necessary work; so that the proposed survey has the approval of the best thought of those who control the destinies of the Commonwealth. This proposal has been thrice passed by overwhelming majorities in the House of Representatives, and, therefore, I contend that the Senate, by a small majority, should not refuse to sanction an investigation, in which no principle is involved, and which does not commit Parliament in any way. If any great principle were involved, the Senate would always be within its rights in refusing to agree to any proposition which they regarded as undesirable ; but, as a matter of fact, the Bill before us merely provides for the expenditure of £20,000 on purely investigation purposes. Under the circumstances, the Senate ought not to continue to oppose what is the desire of the leaders of every party, as evidenced by the three decisions of the House of Representatives. If such an investigation were made, we should then be in a position to decide whether the construction of the railway should or should not be undertaken. I may further point out that Western Australia does not ask that the whole of the expenditure on such a project should be distributed on a per capita basis. On the contrary, the western State, by resolution of Parliament, has offered to reserve twenty-five miles of land on either side of the line - an offer which has been confirmed by the present Premier - and also to beara substantial proportion of the interest, working expenses, and so forth, for the first ten years.
– Would it not be more practical to do something definite today than to make promises for the future?
– How could Western Australia do anything definite ?
– Western Australia might offer to pay the £20,000 for the survey.
– How can any definite offer be made when it is not known what the cost will be? When a survey has been made, and an estimate of the cost prepared, the people of Western Australia will be in a position to make a definite offer.
– What is there to prevent Western Australia making the survev ?
– If Western Australia made the survey, Senators Mulcahy and Millen would be the first to repudiate the report as being biased and unreliable.
– I do not suggest that Western Australian officers should make the survey, but that the western State should bear the cost.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The report of the Engineers-in-Chief of the six States was questioned, because it was favorable stating as it did, that in ten years the proposed railway would pay working expenses and interest.
– The honorable senator himself, in one of his earlier addresses, impugned a portion of that report.
– I never did.
– The honorable senator questioned the estimates of the EngineersinChief.
– I never did so in any way ; and I invite the honorable senator to refer to my past speeches.
– I have done so in anticipation.
– The Engineers-in-Chief of the six States represent the highest tribunal until there has been made a survey on which we may base our calculations ;. and when that survey has been made, Western Australia will be in a position to make some definite proposal as to the proportion of the cost it is prepared to bear.
– Will the honorable senator explain what advantage it would be to the other States to have 25 miles of land reserved on either side of the proposed line?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That phase of the question was discussed in another place, many members of which expressed their /intention to votefor this proposed line if such a condition were attached. What the advantages of this reservation are I do not intend to argue at this stage.
– That paralyzes even the imagination of the honorable senator !
– I do not wish to take up the time of the Senate, because I believe we have all made up our minds how we are going to vote.
– Is this 25 miles of land on either side to be given to the Federation?
– I understand that the whole of the revenue obtained from the reserved land will go directly into the Treasury of the Commonwealth.
– That is quite a new view, I. think.
– Will this land become the absolute property of the Commonwealth, or is it to be in the nature of a guarantee against loss?
– I understand that, outside Kalgoorlie, of course, the Commonwealth will receive any revenue that accrues from the reserved land.
– Is the honorable senator entitled to call this a proposal ? Is it not merely a suggestion that the land shall be reserved?
– I regard it as a land grant, which, instead of being given to private individuals, is offered to the Commonwealth.
.- I may compliment Senators Smith and Pearce on having made the best of a very bad case. In the first instance, this proposed railway was grandiloquently described as “ The Transcontinental Line.” That description was laughed out of court, as was also the succeeding one of “ The TransAustralian Line.” Now we hear the proposed line described as “ The Union Line.” As a matter of fact, this is neither more nor less than an Inter-State coastal line, like that which runs from Adelaide to Brisbane and Rockhampton. It is really a continuation of the coastal line, and to describe it as “transcontinental” is a misnomer; because it would cover only about 1,100 miles of a coast which extends for 8,000 or 9,000 miles. The only transcontinental line that I have heard of is that which it has been suggested should be constructed from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I first heard of this western railway in November, 1900, when Sir John Forrest, in a speech delivered in Western Australia, estimated the cost at £2,500,000. Subsequently, however, Sir John Forrest raised his estimate to £3,000,000. Since then several estimates, running up to £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 have been made. Western Australia seems to have held out to South Australia many temptations to join with it in urging the construction of this line by the Commonwealth. Amongst other curious offers, here is one made by Mr. James, when Premier of Western Australia: -
To South Australia we offer an opportunity of controlling with us the only line which leads direct to the richest markets in Australia, our Eastern Goldfields.
This is a cheerful offer made by a State which would pay about 6 per cent, of the cost of the survev. and 6 per cent, of the capital cost of constructing the line. Nothing is said about the position of the other States that are to bear the chief part of the expenditure - they are altogether ignored. Western Australia and SouthAustralia would not pay more than about 15 or 16 per cent, of the cost of the survey, whilst their contribution to the cost of building the line would Le about the same. The offer of the gold-fields market is held out as a bribe to South Australia to join in this project. Senator Pearce, however, knocked the bottom out of it the other day when he said that, in Western Australia, to the east of the goldfields there are large areas of very rich land, capable of producing all that, they require. We are told that an implied promise was made during the Federal campaign that this line would be constructed by the Commonwealth. Senator Dobson - and, since he was a member of the Convention, no one is able to speak with more authority on this subject than he can - says that the project was never mentioned during the debates in the Convention. I have been unable to find any reference to the subject in the reports of the proceedings. It may have been referred to at the illegal meeting of Premiers which amended the Constitution Bill.
– Why illegal?
– Sir John Forrest himself told me that it was illegal, since it had no authority to alter the Convention Constitution!.
-It was selfconstituted.
– Certainly it was.
– The honorable senator does not often accept Sir John Forrest as an authority.
– Quite so, but he happens to have been one of those who did what they ought not to have done in connexion with the Constitution Bill. They amended it, and, although several provisions to which we objected were embodied in it, we had either to accept them or to reject the whole measure. In July, 1904. Mr. James, then Premier of Western Australia, issued a pamphlet, in which he flatly contradicted the assertion as to the “implied conditions,” when he said : -
The history of the negotiations in connexion with the proposed union railway is marked throughout its later stages by an extraordinary reluctance on the part of South Australia to redeem the promises given by the heads of previous Governments of that Slate.
No reference is made to the other States. The Federation is not bound by any promises that were made by members of the Convention. We are not bound by irresponsible statements made on the public platform during the Federal campaign. No doubt honorable senators representing Western Australia, when on the “hustings, assured their constituents that, if elected, they would advocate the construction of this line. Even if it meant their downfall, I should vote against an- Government that proposed the construction of this railway. It is an outra.ee on common sense that we should be asked to pay for the construction of this rail way when all the eastern States built the Inter-State lines a.t their own expense. Why does not Western Australia come forward and offer to pay 6 per cent, on the money that has been’ expended in building the line from Adelaide to Brisbane in return for the construction of this railway by the Commonwealth ? She does not even offer to hand over to the Commonwealth a strip of country fifty miles wide on each side of the proposed route.
– South Australia will not give us permission to build a line in her territory.
– That is so. Much has been said about the Board of Engineers who dealt with this proposal. In answer to the question number 8, thev said -
We find it very difficult to give an answer in view of the fact that the monetary loss will, for the first few years, be considerable. The revenue may prove to be higher 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 to outweigh the beneficial effects pointed out in answer to question No. 7.
The Board of Engineers about which we have heard so much refused to recommend the construction of the line. It is said that those who oppose its construction display an un-Federal spirit. In other words, our attitude is said to be urn-Federal because we refuse to allow Western Australia - which, in proportion to her population, is the richest State in the Union - to dip her hands into the pockets of Tasmania, Victoria, and other States. It is said that we are un-Federal because we will not sanction the construction of a line to be handed over to the State Governments, and the working of which would provide them with a haven of rest for the destitute incompetent. South Australia is now expending .£500,000 in the construction, of large docks capable of accommodating the ocean liners. If this line were constructed mo large mail steamer would call at Adelaide.
– If the railway would prove such a convenience that should be a strong argument in its favour.
– I think that the point I have made is a strong argument against its construction. No doubt the mails would be carried overland since there would be a saving of twenty or thirty hours in. the time of their delivery, but the clock now being constructed for the accommodation of ocean liners would be rendered useless.
– The mail steamers now and again, carry a passenger or two.
– Certainly, and the saloon passengers might come overland, but the second-class passengers would not think of incurring the additional expense. As a matter of fact the second and third class passengers are the chief source of revenue to railways. Seventy-seven per cent, of the whole of the passenger revenue of the railways of the United Kingdom is derived from those who travel third-class.
– Practically everyone travels third-class there.
– Our second-class passengers are on the same footing as are third-class passengers at home, and from than our railways derive their principal revenue. Some people speak about the overland journey as if it would be a mere nothing. I had the honour to accompany the
Chairman of Committees and Senator de Largie on a railway trip to Brisbane a year or so ago, and after travelling the 700 miles from Sydney Senator Higgs was sick, and went straight to bed, because he was knocked up. A railway journey of 700 miles settled his business. Senator de Largie was cooling his fevered brow, and when I asked him to 00me inside and have a smoke or a cup of tea, he said that he did not feel well enough. These senators, who ate a little over 40 -years of age, and in the prime of life, were knocked up by a railway journey pf 700 miles through the beautiful country of New England and over the Darling Downs and the Main Range, and I wonder what they would think of having- to travel 1,746 miles through such country as this railway would pass over.
– But trains on this railway will run 40 miles an hour.
– So they say, but that would not prevent a man making the journey from feeling sick. Senator Pearce told us tlie other day that he did not care about listening to those who had not been over the ground, and he preferred to hear what some man who had traversed the route had to say on the subject. He related his own experience of a journey ninety miles eastward of the gold-fields, and told us that there was good pastoral and agricultural country there. I believe that is so. But I remember speaking to a squatter from North-West Bend, in South Australia, who had been over some of the country. He was a “ Mac “ something, as most squatters are, and he told me that thirty years ago he had travelled all the way from Port Augusta, 700 miles, over the country through which this railway is proposed to go. He did so with the object of taking up country for pastoral purposes, and which he could have get for nothing. He volunteered the statement to me that he came back without having taken up any country, because he saw none in that journey of 700 miles that was good enough to take up. I find that there is another gentleman who has recently been over the country. I quote from the Argus of 21st Jul v last.
– The Age will be dropping the honorable senator off its ticket if he quotes the Argus.
– I commend to the notice of Senator Pearce, who is so anxious to learn what those who have been over the country have to say, the statements made by Mr. Hann -
Mr. Harm’s explorations extended across the country from Laverton to the South Australian border. He traversed about 1,600 miles in the round journey, which took nearly five months to complete.
The chief feature observed by Mr. Hann in his trip was the dryness of the country crossed. He cut Sir John Forrest’s old tracks at several points, and visited a number of camps of Sir John’s expedition of 1874. He found the maps and plans prepared by Sir John Forrest correct in every particular, except as regards the existence of water. The three principal soaks shown in these maps and plans (known as Fort Mueller, Barlee, the Elder) were all dry, and there was not a cupful of water in any of them. “Had it not been for three providential rain showers,” Mr. Hann said, “ we must have perished from thirst.”
This is nice country to make a railway through. I make this further quotation-
Speaking generally of the country passed through, Mr. Hann reports that, while it would be courting certain death to traverse it at present, plenty of water should be obtained by sinking ; and, if a sufficient number of well’s were sunk, he is of opinion that a good stock route would be opened up between Laverton and Oodnadatta (S.A.).
Mr. :Hann thinks that water might be found underground, but he is not sure of it.
– The country which he passed over is 200 or 300 miles north of the proposed route.
– He says that he crossed Sir John Forrest’s track, which is between the proposed route and the sea coast.
– N - No, Sir John Forrest made two exploring expeditions.
– I heard the honorable senator say the other day that Sir John Forrest went along the coast.
– He also’ explored the country 300 miles north of the coast.
– How does the honorable senator know to what tracks Mr. Hann refers?
– He says that he went from Laverton, and he must have been hundreds of miles north of the coast.
– We were told by Senator Pearce that some public men in Western Australia had said that a “ beggarly £20,000 “ would pay for this survey. If so, why does not the Western Australian Government hand that amount to the Commonwealth, and ask the Commonwealth Government to make the survey? There must be some reason why the people of Western Australia are so insistent in their request that the Commonwealth should make the survey at its own expense. They wish the survey to be made in this way in order, to some extent, to compromise the Commonwealth, and to get 475 miles of the surveycarried out for £1,2 50. Why do they not say at once - “ We have plenty o’f money, and we will give you £20^00 to make the survey. If this is found not to be enough, we will give you another £30,000. We will not see you short of cash. You appoint the survey party, we will do the paying, and let them report to you?” That would be something like a reasonable proposition. The Minister of Defence laughs, but I see nothing unreasonable in that.
– It is a proposition which is not very likely to be made.
– No, they want the other States to pay 94 per cent, of the cost. I might inform honorable senators that in Victoria we have spent no less than £260,000 on useless railway surveys. I mention this in order to caution honorable senators against voting money for a survey which may be absolutely useless. A sum of £260,000 has been wasted in Victoria on surveys, not one mile of which has ever been used by the State. South Australia has never yet given her consent to this line. In my opinion, the first thing that should be settled, is the gauge of the line, because a survey that will be suitable for a 3ft. “6in. line might not be suitable for a line of wider gauge. The gauge of the line should be fixed before we make the survey, and then, if a careful survey were made at a cost of .£40,000 or .£50,000, we should be able to judge what it would cost to construct the line. A condition precedent to everything else connected with this proposal should be the fixing of the gauge of the proposed railway. I find that Premier James, speaking of Premier Jenkins, said -
He announced that he had just received a letter from the latter, dated 29th September, in which it was stated that there was “no likelihood whatever” of South Australia “at anytime “ passing a Bill for the construction of the Union Railway, except upon strict conditions as to both route and gauge.
That certainly affords another reason why the gauge should be fixed” by some authority before any steps are taken in this matter which will involve the expenditure of public money. Premier Price, in answer ing a question on 12th September, 1905, said that on 29th June, 1903,
Mr. Jenkins promised to bring in a Bill fox the construction of the line, subject to Western Australia passing an Act indemnifying South Australia against any financial loss for ten years from completion, with a stipulation as to a 3^-foot gauge, and for the line to go through Tarcoola to Port Augusta. This indemnity was offered by the Premier of Western Australia on 26th June, 1903.
There is the clear and definite statement that, unless the railway is to be constructed on a gauge of 3 ft. 6 in., South Australia is not likely to agree to its construction. When this proposal was first mooted, the representatives of Western Australia pinned their faith on the report of Mr. Engineer O’Connor. But he says that it would take sixty - one hours to travel from Fremantle to Adelaide by rail. That estimate is very near the mark, since the distance is 1,746 miles, or only about 37 miles less than the distance between Adelaide and Brisbane. But a steamer has gone from port to port in seventy-five hours, and others have made the voyage in eighty-three or eighty-four hours, while a vessel like the Loongana could make it in very little, if any, more than the time which would be occupied by the railway journey. Long before the railway is completed, even if the proposed survey is authorized to-morrow, there will be large turbine steamers on our coasts capable of travelling at her rate of speed, and therefore there would be little or no saving of time in journeying bv rail. Under these circumstances, would passengers from the United Kingdom or other parts of the world be likely to tranship at Fremantle to take the train, or would persons from this side be likely to go overland instead o’f bv sea? Another argument for the proposed construction of the line was that it would enable South Australia to supply food stuffs to Western Australia. This year, however. Western Australia intends to export wheat, and will soon export fruit. The State will, before verv long, be able to supply itself with food stuffs, for which we shall all be very glad. But the fact disposes of one of the arguments in favour of the proposed line. Even if a saving of two days were made bv using it. the time occupied in sending the mails from Adelaide to London would be reduced only from thirty-one to twenty-nine days, whereas if a railway were constructed through South Australia to Port Darwin, and the mails taken by that route, and thence to Port Arthur and overland through Siberia, there would be a saving of at least eight days. The distance from Adelaide to Fort Darwin is 2,000 miles, and if a railway of a gauge of 3 ft. 6 in. connected the two places, trains could be tun over it at the rate of 25 miles an hour, and would complete the journey in three days eight hours. From Port Darwin to Port Arthur is a distance, according to the Harbor Trust officials, of 3,700 miles, which vessels steaming at the rate of 15 miles an hour could traverse in ten days seven hours. From Port Arthur to St. Petersberg is a distance of 5,850 miles, which trains travelling at 30 miles an hour would cover in eight days four hours. This would make twenty-one days nineteen hours, and, allowing twenty-nine hours for the journey on to London, the whole time occupied between Adelaide and that place would be twenty-three days.
– Would it not be better to wait until we can send the mails through the blessed land of Mesopatamia, where the Germans are about to construct a railway ?
– No doubt the adoption of that route would effect a saving of time. The other day Senator Pearce stated that Mr. Commissioner Pendleton, of South Australia, had spoken of some of the land on the route of the proposed line as being good.
SenatorPearce. - No. What I said was that the South Australian Railway Commissioner had reported as to the probable cost of the line in his State. I am not aware that he made any reference to the quality of the land.
– Then perhaps I am mistaken. However, the honorable senator forgot to mention that Commissioner Pendleton was asked by the South Australian Ministry to say whether, in the various reports furnished in relation to the construction of a line between Western Australian and South Australia, and the estimates given, consideration washad to the question of the probable diminution or increase of traffic by reason of the construction of a railwav from Esperance Bay to the gold-fields. To that question his reply was -
In none of the reports or estimates made by me in connexion with the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie did I take into consideration the possibility of a line being made from Esperance Bay to Kaltroorlie (or Coolgardie), and although it is difficult to say with accuracy what traffic would be drawn from the first railway if the second were made, I am of the opinion that if the Adelaide Steam-ship. Company determined to run quick and commodious steamers between Port Adelaide and Esperance Bay, a distance of about 830 nautical miles, in connexion with a line from the bay to the gold- fields, 220 miles, quite 50 per cent, of the estimated traffic for the other line would go through Esperance.
Of course, we know that Sir John Forrest brought in a Bill to construct a railway from Coolgardie to Norseman - that is, roughly speaking, about half the distance - but it was defeated. If the eastern gold-fields become strong enough to insist upon the railway to Port Augusta being constructed, they also will be strong enough to insist upon a railway being constructed to Esperance Bay, a distance of 220 miles.
– What business have we to interfere with Esperance Bay ?
– We have no business to interfere with Esperance Bay, but what they practically say to us is, “ You build a railway first, and then we will take the traffic from your line by a railway to Esperance Bay.”
– Nothing of the kind.
– That statement hag been made.
– Who said so?
– The Chief Secretary of South Australia asked the local Railways Commissioner whether a railway to Esperance Bay would affect the working of a railwav from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and, after having considered the matter well, and, I suppose, taken the advice of his subordinate officers, he replied that in his opinion, it would take half the traffic.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the member for Kalgoorlie in the State Parliament is opposed to the construction of a railway to Esperance Bav?
– I am aware that a great number of persons in Perth are opposed to the construction of the proposed railwav from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. While I was in Perth with the Old-age Pensions Commission one or two persons waited upon me, and said that if a vote were taken in that city the proposal would be defeated.
– They explained to me that they want the trade to go through Perth to the gold-fields and not by way of
Port Augusta, because if it went by the latter route they would lose. What they want is no concern of mine.
– Were they ashamed to speak to their own representatives about the matter?
– I do not know, but I may tell the honorable senator that the gentlemen saw me because they knew me when they were in Victoria. Another thing which Senator Pearce made a great point of was that Western Australia is prepared to send out a prospecting party to accompany the survey party. For what purpose? So that the survey party maylead the prospecting party, and, of course, help to save a part of the expenses of the latter. The alleged object is that the prospecting party may endeavour to discover new sources of gold, silver, or other mineral wealth, not for the benefit of the Commonwealth, but for the advantage of the State. Why does not Western Australia send out a prospecting party without waiting until a party is sent out by the Commonwealth to make a survey of the proposed railway? Why cannot it send out a prospecting party now or at any time ? The Government of Western Australia want the survey to be made with Commonwealth cash, and they hope by that means to reduce the cost of their prospecting party.
SenatorPearce. - No.
– Then why do they not send out a prospecting party at once?
– If the honorable senator knew anything of Western Australia he would not make that statement.
– I know enough of the State to enable me to say that its people are never satisfied. It is the only State which has been grumbling all along. It went into the Federation-
– And it has got nothing in return.
– Western Australia laid down its terms before it joined the Federation, and the terms were that for a period of five years it should have the right to levyimport duties on goods passing from the eastern States. That was the pound of flesh upon which it insisted.
– Western Australia has been doing the grumbling and Victoria has been getting the money.
– Western Australia is not satisfied with levying Customs duties on the produce of the eastern States, but, in order to show the Federal spirit, a much higher rate is charged for the carriage of such produce over its railways than is charged for the carriage of local produce.
– The very same thing is done in Victoria.
– Victoria carries pro duce by its railways at a cheaper rate from New South Wales to Melbourne than it charges for the carriage of local produce.
– In Victoria a higher wharfage rate is charged on Inter- State produce than is charged on Victorian produce.
– The honorable senator is mistaken, but if his statement were true the charge is made, not by the Government, but by the Harbor Trust Commission, which the State Parliament ought to bring to book. In Western Australia the railway rate for the carriage of Inter-State produce ranges from 30 to 279 per cent, more than the charge for the carriage of local produce.
– It has been abolished.
– It has been abolished because attention was drawn here to its collection. There is another way which Western Australia ‘has of displaying the Federal spirit. It sent a paid lecturer all over Victoria to induce Victorian farmers to go to the West. Is that what my honorable friends call a display of brotherly feeling?
– It was to prevent Victorians from going to South Africa.
– The Government of Western Australia paid a gentleman named Mr. Wilbur to lecture all over Victoria. I met him accidentally in Melbourne. He had then travelled, I think. 7.000 miles, and was booked to go to New South Wales for the purpose of lecturing there with a view to induce persons to go to Western Australia.
– To stop in Australia.
– He told me that himself. What was his object in coming here? Do my honorable friends think that the Government of Western Australia would have paid a man to lecture all over the eastern States in order to prevent persons from going to South Africa?
– Their people were running away.
– Let my honorable friend ask Senator Pulsford whether people were running away from New South Wales when this gentleman went to lecture there?
If men had not left Victoria Western Australia would have had no gold-fields. Four out of every six adults on the goldfields of Western Australia went there from Victoria, and Victorian money is being sent there now for investment in hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– And money is earning to Victoria to maintain their wives and families.
– The money is earned by Victorians in Western Australia, and is rightly coming here. I pass on from that curious way of showing the Federal spirit, and come to the time when the Old-age Pensions Commission was taking evidence in Western Australia. I am certain that’ Senator Pearce knows what is coming now.
– Certainly not.
– Mr. Charles Henry Wickens, actuary and statistical compiler in the Government Statistician’s office, was told off to give evidence, and he explained Western Australia’s idea of dividing the money to be raised for that purpose. I ask honorable senators to listen to the following extract from his evidence: - 15S3. I want to know whether you think that the whole of the money raised in a particular State for old-age pensions should be spent in that State, and the balance remain there and not be pooled? - I do not intend that exactly. What I mean ‘is that in States, where the conditions are somewhat similar, the pooling night go on, and until such time as Queensland and Western Australia had worked down to corresponding conditions, their contributions should be treated separately.
The question at issue at the time’ was the suggested duties on tea and kerosene, and it was pointed out by this representative civil servant that, owing to its large adult population. Western Australia would contribute a great deal more in proportion to population than’ any other State, and he said that if those two articles had to furnish revenue with which to pay the pensions, it would raise about twice what would be required to pay its share. He said -
Their contributions should be treated separately ; that is, on the lines of the suggestion made for dealing with the surplus of the consolidated revenue.
He was then asked -
You would discriminate between one State and another? - I certainly would in that case.
This is what they call the Federal spirit, ,One of the chief officers of the State told the Commissioners that any surplus over and above what was required to pay old- age pensions should not be pooled, but should be retained by the State.
– Does Victoria want us to keep her old men as well as our own ?
– Victoria is keeping the lot of you. Upon a per capita basis Western Australia would be required to pay only £1,250 towards the cost of the proposed survey.
– We have kept Victoria out of the poor-house for the last six years.
– It was very good of the people of Western Australia to do that, but apparently they now want to shove us into the poor-house by levying upon us for money to which they have no more right than has the man in the moon. During the last three years Western Australia has had an aggregate surplus of £246,000 upon the working of her railways.
– There was a deficiency of £100,000 in the general revenue last year. .
– I am speaking only of the railway revenue. The surplus to which I have referred would have been sufficient to pay for the proposed survey twelve times over - that is, if it could be carried out for £20,000. In spite of the fact I have mentioned, Western Australia asks Tasmania, which has an annual deficit of £100,000, to contribute nearly as much as she would towards the cost of the survey. We are told by Senator Pearce that the proposed railway would develop a. fine tract of country. If the land for fifty miles upon either side of the proposed line were handed over to the Commonwealth. I should say, “ By all means make the survey and develop this fine tract of country.” It is desired, however, that this “ fine tract of country “ shall be developed at’ the cost of the eastern States, and that all the benefits accruing therefrom shall go into the pockets of the people of Western Australia. Surely this is a proposal to which no man outside of a lunatic asylum would ever agree. I wish to point out that during the three years ended 20th June, 1905, New South Wales accumulated a deficit upon the working of her railways amounting to £768,000 ; Victoria, during the same period, accumulated a deficit of £364,000 ; and Queensland - and 1’ commend this to the representatives of that State - accumulated a deficit of £1,164,000.
– We are doing better now.
– There is plenty of room for improvement, so far as the railway revenue is concerned. Tasmania, during the two years ended June, 1904, accumulated a deficit of£262,000. Therefore, the four States mentioned show a deficiency upon the working of their railways during the last three years of £2, 558,000. On the other hand, Western Australia has had a large surplus, and yet she asks the States referred to to contribute no less than 84 per cent, of the cost of the proposed survey. She also desires them to contribute to the cost of the proposed railway upon a population basis, under which arrangement she would pay only 6 per cent., and South Australia 9 per cent.
– What does the railway surplus in Western Australia prove?
– That Western Australia is very mean.
– It proves that her railway system is paying.
– No doubt; but it also proves that she is well able to afford to defray the cost of the proposed survey.
– It proves further that Western Australia is willing to construct the railways that will pay, and to hand over the others to the Commonwealth.
– Just so. Victoria has an accumulated railway deficit of over £7,000,000.
– And Western Australia is paying it off.
– There is not enough money in, Western Australia to pay off the Victorian railway deficit. Because the people of Western Australia have been able to produce a little gold they are never tired of’ boasting of their wealth. Yet they are mean enough to ask Queensland and Tasmania together to contribute three times the amount that they will have to pay towards the cost of the proposed survey.
– We cannot send to every State the money that we contribute to Victoria every year.
– All that Western Australia sends to Victoria is about £200,000 per annum. We could sell Collinsstreet and buy up Western Australia. If it had not been for the Victorians who went over to Western Australia the people there would still have been groping in the sand” as they were doing before they were civilized.
– While Collins-street was gaining wealth the working people were being driven out of Victoria to Western Australia.
– Nonsense. They went to Western Australia because they could find gold there.
– Let us be a band of brothers.
– That is all very fine. I have already given an indication of the fine brotherly spirit - of the broad national spirit - that prevails. When I hear a man talking about displaying a broad national spirit I know that he has his eye on some one else’s cash.
– The honorable senator has been reading the Age.
– It would be better for the honorable senator if he read the Age rather than the West Australian.
– Just think of the lovely report that the honorable senator will get to-morrow.
– If it is not better than the reports they give the honorable senator, it will not be worth much. He never says anything that is worth reporting.
– The Honorable senator is on the Age ticket.
– I do not know anything as to that, but I shall be glad if I am.
– I think that the honorable senator had better return to the subject.
– I seriously hope that the Senate will throw out this Bill, as it did on the last occasion.I cannot conceive why honorable senators who support it should ask the Commonwealth to undertake what is purely a State work. Let the Western Australian Government pay for the survey, handing over the money to the Commonwealth Government, and if the report is satisfactory, we may be able to discuss the railway afterwards. But to ask us to find the money is virtually to ask us to pledge ourselves to the construction of the line.
– We have never said so.
– I regard a railway survey as part of a scheme for railway making. You cannot have a railway without a survey. It is like driving the first peg.
– There can be a survey without a railway.
– That is true; and in Victoria we have spent £260,000 on surveys without a mile of railway being constructed afterwards. My point is, however, that if the Commonwealth agrees to make the survey, it will to some extent be pledged to build the line. Before anything definite is done, the matter of gauge should be settled.
– Is not that secondary to the survey ?
– No, and I will show why. A survey suitable for a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line .might not be suitable for ai 4 ft. 8$- in. gauge line. The former would permit of curves which would not be possible on the latter.
– Our general knowledge of the country indicates that there would not be many curves on this line.
– But there is a doubt whether South Australia will consent to the railway being built through her territory on any other gauge than that which she has now. My own impression is that if the line is built at all, it should be on the world’s standard gauge. Eighty per cent, of the railways of the world are constructed on a 4 ft. 81 in. gauge. I think that in time that will be the gauge for Australia also. One of the reasons urged in favour of the line is that it would enable us to get our mails two days earlier. But if it is to be a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line, we cannot calculate on the trains running Over 30 miles an hour.
– They can run up to 40 miles an hour on a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line.
– I know that. I travelled on an engine at the rate of forty miles an hour over such a railway in Queensland forty years ago. But it would not be a safe speed at which to nin trains as a rule. Speaking for myself, if it came to the point when the railway was to be built, I should advocate a 4 ft. 8J in. gauge, which I am satisfied is that which must eventually become the standard for all Australia.
– It would cost millions and millions, and we should not get a single passenger or a single ton of goods more than at present.
– Once the railway is built it will always be there, and it may as well be laid down on the standard gauge sooner as later; though, perhaps, a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line would do for a generation to come.
– It would do for 100 years.
– Possibly. If the Western Australian Government were to hand over the money for the survey to the Commonwealth, I should have no objection to its being made. In fact, if the Western Australian ‘Government were to appoint its own surveyors I would accept their report as I have accepted Mr. O’Connor’s and many others. I do not think that a party of surveyors would deliberately falsify the facts or misconstrue them.
– The honorable senator has already charged the Western Australian representatives with misconstruing the facts.
– They are not surveyors but purveyors. I was referring to railway surveyors not to politicians. I would accept the report of a party of surveyors by whomsoever they were appointed.
– Does the honorable senator accept Mr. Muir’s report which I read ?
– Oh, yes, although he may be mistaken on some points. I would accept the report of surveyors appointed by the Western Australian Government though I am aware that a good many people would not. Such people say that they would not trust the Western Australian engineer. My point is that I do not wish to commit the Commonwealth to any expenditure in this direction at the present time. The cost of the proposed survey should undoubtedly be borne by the States which are chiefly interested in the project, namely, Western Australia and South. Australia. If they would hand over to the Commonwealth sufficient money to defray the cost of the undertaking I should urge no objection to the Bill.
– - I had hoped that upon the present occasion the debate upon this Bill would have been conducted in a spirit which was worthy of the Senate and worthy of Australia. But certainly the address to which we have just listened did not rise to that level. I have heard with extreme regret remarks made concerning Western Australia, which - whilst the spirit which prompted them was to be condemned - were at the same time utterly inaccurate. My reading of the history of the past ten or fifteen years has taught me to draw entirely different conclusions from those which are entertained by Senator Styles. I can recall the period when the eastern States- were more or less overwhelmed by a great financial disaster, one of the greatest that has visited any country. I recollect that at that very period - perhaps owing to the wise interposition of Providence - Western Australia, by reason of its gold discoveries, came to the front. It was those discoveries and the rise of Western Australia in the early nineties which enabled the eastern States to avert the ruin which threatened them. The whole idea underlying the remarks of Senator Styles in reference to Western Australia levying taxation upon the produce of the eastern States is an entirely erroneous one. Upon whom has that taxation been levied ? Unquestionably upon her own people. That is one of the established facts of Australian finance, which cannot be disputed. When Federation was accomplished Western Australia was collecting a very large Customs revenue, and her expenditure compelled her to continue doing so. Consequently, she was unable to enter the Union unless some special treatment were meted out to her. Personally I think that she acted a generous part in agreeing to forego her special Tariff at the rate of one-fifth each year. I do not know that the operation of that Tariff has made any appreciable difference to the trade from the eastern States. Certainly nothing has occurred which in any way warrants the unAustralian attitude which has been adopted by Senator Styles. Regarding his statement, that Western Australia is sending lecturers abroad for the purpose of attracting settlers there, I would ask - “ What is being done to-day by the easter.ni States?” Are not the branch houses of all the great firms in Melbourne and Sydney doing all that they possibly can to push their interests in the West? Why. then, should not Western Australia send representatives to the eastern States with that object? Is it not all part and parcel of the Federation? Why should we censure Western Australia for endeavouring to attract Australians thither?
– If Western Australia, instead of sending a lecturer to the different States of the Commonwealth, had sent him abroad, she would have been condemned even in a worse fashion.
– Perhaps she would. This, Bill has been carried by a majority of two to one in the House of Representatives, and I understand that a majority of honorable senators from the mainland also approve of it. If it should be defeated it will be because the representatives of Tasmania disapprove of it. Upon a previous occasion I have observed in regard to this Bill that the representatives of that State have been foremost in adopting the methods of debate which Senator Styles has adopted to-day. I ask them to consider whether they are justified in using their votes to nullify the wish of the rest of Australia?
– It is the most unjust proposal to which I have ever been asked to assent.
– Of the £20,000 which would be expended upon the proposed survey, the other States of the Commonwealth would contribute, I suppose, about £19,1000. Their representatives in this Parliament are willing to commit them to that expenditure. But because Tasmania will be called upon - should the measure become law - to contribute £900 towards the cost of the undertaking, it is to be blocked. I appeal to the representatives of that State to view the question from that stand-point, and to rise to the occasion by joining with other honorable senators in approving this great undertaking. If the objections of the Tasmanian representatives spring from the inability of that State to contribute £900 to the project, I think that Western Australia might arrange to pay it for her. I throw out this suggestion to Western Australian representatives.
– Is not the honorable senator adopting the same un-Federal spirit of which he has already complained ?
– I think that the suggestion- is almost an insult to Tasmania. That State can afford to contribute her proportion of the cost of the undertaking, and if she would regard it from a truly Federal stand-point her representatives would agree to this Bill.
– Could not the Tasmanian Government impose sua extra tax upon Tattersalls sweeps in-order to raise her proportion of the cost?
– I am sorry that there is only one Tasmanian senator present, but I earnestly put forward this claim for consideration.
– There are some senators from Queensland present. The honorable senator should talk to them.
– I am aware that some of the Queensland representatives intend to support this Bill, but I know of no
Tasmanian representative who approves of it. It is a pity that the measure should be endangered by a block vote of the Tasmanian representatives in the Senate.
– Especially when it is found that in another place the representatives of Tasmania voted for the proposal !
– In another place the representatives of Tasmania, I think, voted against the proposal.
– They all, with one exception, voted against the proposal.
– That makes the position still more remarkable. One overwhelming reason in favour of this railwayis connected with our system of defence, or rather with our system of defence as it ought to be. We ought not to be content to allow east and west to remain without some quick means of communication. We may be living to-day in a fool’s paradise, because we do not know what future years mav bring forth. The construction of such a line would take a number of years. If we adopted this Bill to-day, and the survey were to begin in the course of the next few months, years might elapse before the line could be completed. Therefore, it will be seen that there is no time to waste. It is desirable that we should consider the importance of this line - not only from an Australian, but from an Imperial point of view - and that there should be no unnecessary delay. Happily, the project presents very few engineering difficulties. The proposed line would traverse a practically flat country, and could, I suppose, be constructed almost more cheaply than any other line in the world. That is one reason why we should do our part to make the line ari accomplished fact.
– Does the honorable senator think that the proposed line could be more cheaply constructed than any other line in the world?
– Speaking broadly, I think that is so. At the present time, some $ix days are occupied in conveying the mails from Fremantle to Sydney ; and a railway would, it may be presumed, reduce that time to about three days. What would a saving of three days, or even of two days, mean in this connexion ? It would mean a saving of time which would be held by the PostmasterGeneral to be sufficient to warrant the payment of a substantial sum to a steam-ship company ; and with a railway such as that now under consideration, we should be con tent with a slower sea service at a saving of anything from £20,000 to £40,000 per annum. However, I do not think that Australians desire any slower sea service ;. what they desire is the quickest means of communication by both sea and land. The point I wish to emphasize is that a saving of two or three days in the conveyance of mails between east and west would practically mean a saving of the interest on £1,000,000, which is no inconsiderable sum in the total cost of such a railway. Western Australia has developed only since the nineties, and there is before that State, not only great possibilities, but great certainties. The population of Western Australia to-day is suggestive of a much larger population in coming years. It is now largely an adult population, and with the inevitable addition of women and children, it will in the future be verv substantial, without arrivals from outside. Senator Styles himself admitted in a depreciatory way that the possibilities of Western Australia are very great. The honorable senator pointed out that Western Australia was increasing her productions and pushing her trade; and this only makes it all the more desirable that there should be proper communication between east and west. There is, I fear, some opposition to the proposed line from those who benefit by the present shipping communication; but we know that, as the world progresses, one means of communication supersedes another, an “I we must not allow the interests of the west to suffer because the interests of those engaged in the shipping business may not be correspondingly benefited. I venture to say, however, that in the event of this railway being constructed, the development of Western Australia will be such that even more shipping accommodation will be required than at present, in addition to the substantial traffic by land. Overland passengers to arid from Europe will, in themselves, produce a considerable revenue ; and, indeed, the financial results of an Inter-State railway, as presented to us some time ago, are of a promising character. This railway could be built at a comparatively light cost, and certainly would not be very costly to run; and, altogether, I do not think there is any great fear of financial trouble. The report of the EngineersinChief three years ago was decidedly in favour of the line, and that report ought to have been made more use of than it has been in the discussion of the question. I notice that Western Australia has made an offer which ought not to be lost sight of by Tasmania. That offer is that for a period of ten years, Western Australia is prepared to bear aproportion of the loss in excess of her per capita burden. That is a very reasonable offer in face of the fact that Western Australia has very heavy financial burdens to bear. The proposed railway is really an Australian enterprise, and, bearing in mind that the safety and well-being of Australia may to a considerable extent depend upon its construction, we ought to view the proposal in a broad and generous spirit. I have no further remarks to offer. I can only reiterate my earnest desire that the consideration of this Bill will be approached in the spirit of which it is worthy, and that those who apparently hold its fate in the hollow of their hands, will consider the phases of the question I have put forward, and decide that Australia should carrv this project into effect.
.- It is with some reluctance that I venture to take part in the third debate on this subject, since it is difficult to avoid a repetition of arguments, which must, to some extent, involve a waste of time. I feel constrained, however, to reply to some of the statements made by Senator Pulsford. I admit at once that Senator Pearce put the case for the construction of the line very fairlv and cogently, but towards the close of his address he reverted to the oft- repeated assertion that when Federation was mooted, an implied promise was given to Western Australia that this railway would be constructed bv the Commonwealth. Inferentiallv he suggested that we should be guilty of a breach of faith if we failed to undertake the work. Then again, Senator Smith told us that in dealing with this question, we ought to “ think continentally.” But his preiudice in favour of the line led him to deal with it solely from thepoint of view of individual States. He’ urged that Tasmania and Queensland had received many advantages from Federation whilst Western Australia had received none.
– That was a statement of fact.
– I wish to deal with thisquestion from a constitutional as well as from a common sense business-like, and financial stand-point. The representatives of Western Australia prejudiced their case by asserting that there was an implied promise that the Commonwealth would con struct this line. As a matter of fact, that contention was raised only when it was found that South Australia was unwilling to join with Western Australia in constructing the line, or to give its consent to the proposal.
– The honorable senator does not contend that South Australia is seriously withholding her consent?
– I contend that this Bill is improperly before the Senate. Our only power to deal with it is conferred upon us by paragraph xxxiv. of section 51 of the Constitution, which empowers the Parliament to make laws with respect to railway construction and extension in any State, with the consent of that State. And yet, although we have not received the assent of one of the States concerned, we are proceeding with this project. I blame the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General for agreeing to what they know is unconstitutional, and grossly wrong.
– Then the honorable senator must blame every Prime Minister we have had.
– I have before me the speeches made by Mr. Reid as one of the delegates at the Federal Convention, and after perusing them I find it difficult to understand how he could possibly support this Bill. The assertion that an implied promise was given that the railway would be built by the Commonwealth, and that this had a great effect upon the people of Western Australia when they were asked to enter the Union, is, as it were, “ knocked on the head” by the fact that the line was never even hinted at during the three sittings of the Convention, and that in Tasmania - at all events, so far as I know - no reference was made to it during the Federal campaign. At the Convention, Sir John Forrest declared week after week that Western Australia could not think of entering the Union unless she was granted a concession in respect to her Tariff. And it is remarkable that the delegates from that State never hinted at ‘the construction of this railway as being necessary to secure her consent to the proposed Union. During the debate on the provision in the Constitution Bill giving the Parliament power to legislate with respect to
Railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State.
Sir John Forrest said
I can only say that we have already built our railways up to within 400 miles of our boundary, and we shall be quite able to build other lines ourselves when we can agree with our friends to join us on the border.
– We urge that this line should be built for the benefit of the Commonwealth, and not of any one State.
– I would ask the honorable senator to carefully consider the quotation I have just read. Sir John Forrest went on to say -
As far as we are concerned we should like to see a great trunk line running across the Continent from east to west, and another from north to south, and we look forward to seeing this accomplished.
These quotations furnish a complete answer to the contention of the representatives of Western Australia. Sir John Forrest mentioned two other transcontinental lines, but said that Western Australia was able and willing to construct a line to the South Australian border. Notwithstanding that statement Senator Pulsford appeals to the representatives of Tasmania to show a true Federal spirit by voting for this Bill.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that Sir John Forrest had not this line in view when he spoke of the two trunk lines?
– I think that he had in mind the line contemplated bv Senator Neild.
– He must have had in mind a continuation of the Kalgoorlie line.
– In view of the remarks I have quoted, Sir John Forrest could not have had such an extension in view. In order to emphasize the point that in the early days of the Federation we are entering upon works that were never contemplated, let me read the views expressed by two or three members of the Convention. In referring to paragraph xxxiv., of section 51, of the Constitution, which relates to railway construction, Mr. Wise said -
In the last division I felt the impracticability of giving Federal control, and the power to construct any railway.
– Order. In suspending the sitting of the Senate until 2.30 p.m., I would point out that the sessional order fixes the duration of the luncheon adjournment on Fridays, but does not fix any time in respect of the luncheon adjournment on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Inasmuch as we have been in the habit of meeting on those days at 2.30, and the sessional order is silent on the point, I. assume that it was intended that on Wed nesdays and Thursdays the sittings of the Senate should be suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m. ,
– I now propose to quote a few words which Mr. Reid said at the Convention on the proposal that the construction of railways should ‘be one of the powers given to the Federal Parliament. He said -
I wish to have an opportunity of saying that I have a very strong objection to the whole of this sub-section, unless it is restricted to railways for defence purposes. Any confusion in connexion with the powers of the Federal Government, and any exceptional powers, would be likely to create great mischief in the future.
He then went on to say -
For defence and military purpose, that is perfectly justifiable. For any other purpose it is absolutely unjustifiable. If we study the history of America, where such powers are so persistently abused, we can see that it might even become a question in the Federal Parliament that would exercise a malign influence upon the public life of the Commonwealth. For instance, take my friend Sir John Forrest. No more upright public man exists in the world than Sir John Forrest, but if a Federal Government should tempt him with a transcontinental railway to Perth, I should tremble for the public virtue.
– What a true prophet !
– He was a true prophet, for he prophesied what is now happening.
– He supports the ralway now.
– I have nothing to do with the way in which people change their opinions. I am concerned now to show what was in the minds of the framers of the Constitution, and that it was never conceived that under these powers we should be asked in the early days of the Federation to build 1,100 miles of railway because two of the States will not do it themselves.
– We can all admit that Mr. Reid, because he is Mr. Reid, has a right to chance his mind.
– I have a perfect right to quote what Mr. Reid said at the Convention, when he was speaking with more responsibility than he had when on a picnicking . expedition he made the speech at Perth “to which reference has been made. Sir John Cockburn, who has been referred to, said -
I am entirely against the amendment at present under consideration, that the construction of any railway should take place without the consent of the States concerned.
Here is another quotation from the remarks of Sir John Forrest -
We ask for nothing which is not reasonable. We are not here to ask for concessions, but simply for the treatment to which we are entitled. I do not think it should be forgotten that, although we are probably not so important as some of the other Colonies represented here, we are the owners of one-third of this Continent, and no Federation will be complete unless it embraces that great western third.
Then, referring to the proposed provision, he went on to say -
If it does not remain, some other words will certainly have to be introduced, because it will be foolish to give the Commonwealth power to take over railways or parts of railway system and not give them power to construct and extend those railways in such manner as may be necessary.
Sir William McMillan, speaking of the transcontinental railway, said -
But we all think that the time is not ripe for that yet, and that it would overburden our Federal Constitution at present.
– I thought the honorable and learned senator said that the railway was never discussed at the Convention.
– The idea in the minds of the members of the Convention was that nothing could justify the construction of such a railway except for defence purposes. It was pointed out that it would lead to dual control with the States. No one desires to see a great Federal Railway Department created. We all know that it would involve tremendous expense, and an expense that was never contemplated at the Convention. The Federal Railway Department which would be required to look after this one railwaywould involve an expense for administration a-d maintenance far greater than would be involved if the work were undertaken jointly bv the two States concerned.
– The honorable and learned senator has been quoting from the proceedings of the Federal Convention.
– I thought that the honorable and learned senator said that the railway was never discussed there.
– I have already said that the Transcontinental Railway, with which we are dealing now, was never discussed there. I have Sir John Forrest’s authority for saving that he never mentioned it at the Convention. Surely the quotation which I read before luncheon should satisfy the honorable senator. If it does not, nothing will.
– The honorable senator is taking advantage of the difference of a few miles north or south of a certain line.
– It has been said over and over again that by voting for this Bill and the proposed survey, we shall not be committed to vote for the construction of the railway. We do not need to be told that. It is certain that because honorable senators may vote £20,000 to inspect the country to see whether water can be obtained there in sufficient quantity to keep men and beasts alive - and we have often heard that it cannot - it will not follow that thev will be bound to vote for the construction of the railway. But when Sir John Forrest, after flinging this thing into the midst of the Federal Parliament, found that he could get a majority to vote for the survey, what did he say? He said -
I do not consider that we should incur expenditure merely for the sake of making people believe that we aTe going to do something in this direction unless we really intend to do so. I am not in favour of making surveys for any proposed railway unless the project is entered upon in a bond fide way, and unless those who are prepared to support the necessary expenditure are ready to follow up their action in this respect by supporting the construction of the line.
Every argument which honorable senators opposite bring forward in support of this measure is absolutely cut from under them bv the words of Sir John Forrest himself. Then I am told by Senator Pulsford that I should consider my position, and should regard this proposal in a Federal spirit, that I should not join with other Tasmanian senators in opposing the proposed railway. I regard this as the most unjust proposal I have ever been asked to consider. Here we have Western Australia, the richest State in the Commonwealth, making this extraordinary request. Senator Smith, in his splendid legal counsel’s speech, racked his brains in an effort to show that Western Australia has got less out of the Federation than any other State in the Commonwealth. The honorable senator succeeded to a certain extent.
– He proved it up to the hilt.
– He did nothing of the kind. We were told by Sir John Forrest over and over again that Federation would be a sham unless it included the great western State. He induced the other States desiring to form the Federation to permit Western Australia to maintain her special Tariff for five years. Western Australia, bv that special concession, which the other States practicallypaid her to come into the Federation, has obtained between £800,000 and £900,000.
– What would she have obtained if she had not come into the Federation ?
– This money had been obtained from the pockets of her own people, I admit, but Tasmania, on the other hand, has had to suffer a loss of revenue to the extent of about £1,000,000. I am asked by honorable senators to consider this- matter in a Federal spirit, and to believe that Tasmania has gained everything, and Western Australia has gained nothing, from the Federation. If there is a “Little Australia,” or an unFederal way of considering this subject, the speech delivered bv Senator Smith is a good example of it. I ask honorable senators to consider the position of Queensland and Tasmania in the matter of finance. Senator Pulsford is, perhaps, better able than any other member of the Senate to deal with this aspect of the question, and I must ask whether he has left his financial brains behind him this morning? Does the honorable senator not’ know that we are within £300,000 of exhausting the whole of our spending power of one-fourth of the revenue from Customs and Excise? Does he not know that we have a right to consider seriously a proposal for the expenditure of -£1,000, let alone of £5,000,000 ? Does he not know that unless we mind what we are doing the Federal expenditure will be such that it will be necessary for us to seek other means of paying our way, because the one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue will not be sufficient for the purpose? I am tired of referring to the number of big schemes that are before us. If we are going to vote £4.000,000 or £5.000,000. for this ralway, a similar sum for Australian defence, and £3,000,000 or -^”4,000,000 for a Federal Capital, the people at Home who lend us their money will think that we are all mad.
– If they read the honorable senator’s speech, they will be justified in coming to that conclusion.
– They will be justified in calling us “ Jubilee Plungers” if we go on in the way proposed much longer, and they will be justified in making remarks similar to those which some honorable senators sneeringly refer to as coming from the “stinking fish party.” The people of Great Britain and of other parts of the world will judge us by our actions and our laws, and if they are such as to render us unpopular^ we must pay the price of our folly. I have no desire to repeat what. 1 have already said with respect to the country through which the proposed line will pass. I read the reference to Mr. Hann’s expedition, to which. Senator Styles referred, and it seemed to me to absolutely confirm all that has been previously said on the subject. This man travelled for hundreds of miles over this country, and over and over again he says that there was not a drop of water to be found. When he visited each of the three places at which Sir John Forrest obtained water he found every one of them dry. Does this not show that in a season of drought it would be dangerous for human life to be in such a locality. It is simply monstrous to saythat £20,000 would be sufficient to explore this country, to put down bores to find out whether a water supply can be obtained, and to make a flying survey of the line. It would cost three times the amount. T have quoted the words of Sir John Forrest’s diary for the benefit of honorable senators before. Over and over again he makes the statement that there was not a drop of water to be found in this country, and that there was not even an emu to be seen, which is strong evidence of want of water. Senator ‘Pearce tried, and to some extent succeeded, in showing that there are some hundreds of miles of what would be good pastoral country, if the difficulty of securing a sufficient supply of water could be overcome. But the better the land is, the more rich the country, and the more it is open to settlement, the more easy it will be for Western Australia to carry out the suggestion and promise of Sir John Forrest and build the railway herself. If the land along the route of the proposed railway is good land, what can be more simple than for the States concerned to build the line. They would on their own showing lose a little interest on the cost of construction for ten years. What have we been doing in Tasmania ? We are at this moment losing interest on our main line of railway, which has been in operation for the last twenty years. When almost all the railways in the other States are being run at a loss we are asked to build a line for the richest State in the Commonwealth. Is that justice? I should be a traitor to the State I represent if I did not protest against the construction of this railway on every possible occasion. I say that the coaxing and lobbying that is being done to get this railway through does not redound to the credit of those who are responsible for it. I believe that some honorable senators, like Senator Walker, have been persuaded to vote for the measure because they have been told that not to do so would be to show an un-Federal spirit.
– Nonsense; I believe in the proposal.
– I ask Senator Walker whether the financial institution with which he is connected will lend Tasmania £100,000 a year, and charge her nothing for the loan? Is not the financial position of each of the States a matter of importance to the Commonwealth? Honorable senators are aware that the properity of the Commonwealth depends on the soundness of the financial position of the States. I am asked to drag the State I represent into an expenditure which it cannot afford.
– Why does the honorable senator say that Western Australia is the richest State in the Commonwealth?
– I believe that it is, because of the gold it possesses, and because it is the largest State.
– It might be the largest State, but it is not the richest State.
– I believe that it is. I have been astounded at the prosperity of New South Wales, her enormous revenue, and big surpluses, but if we consider the position of Western Australia, with her gold mines, and her possibilities owing to, the enormous acreage of land she possesses, and also her small population, I believe that it can be said that she is the richest State of the Commonwealth.
– Most of the capital there is borrowed.
– There is gold there to pay for it. What is mining in Western Australia doing to-day ? It is enticing away the manhood of every one of the other States. Scores of men are leaving Tasmania for Western Australia, and in many instances they are not paying for the upkeep of the wives and children they have left behind them. It is owing to the enormous wages earned by the miners, and largely spent on the purchase of imported articles, that Western Australia has enjoyed her enormous revenue. Yet she cannot afford to build this transcontinental railway, but asks Tasmania, out of her slender revenue - already depleted to the tune of £1,000,000 - to help her in that regard. Is it not an unFederal idea for Western Australia to say to the other States - “We are quite aware that you have developed your territories by the construction of railways, but we want you to make Western Australia, our State, an exception to the rule.” In his earnestness and prejudice, Senator Smith grumbled about Western Australia being so large. Is he prepared to cut off a part of the State and present it to Tasmania ? Hecomplained that Western Australia is getting no advantage from the subsidy of £1 2,000 to Burns, Philp, and Company, or from the subsidy to the steamers to carry the mails to Tasmania, and even has to pay subsidies to little steamer* running from Perth two or three thousand miles along her coast. Tasmania has only a small coast-line, but Western Australia has an enormous coast-line, and yet the honorable senator grumbles because the latter State has to pay a subsidy to some steamers to travel along her enormous coast-line. I do not know why she cannot afford to build her own railways. Sir John Forrest, who was king of the State for twelve years, said that she had built her railways, and could continue to do so ; but now the Commonwealth is asked to undertake that work on her behalf. Senator Pulsford seems to think that Western Australia is the richest State in the Commonwealth. We all know that the mines yield a great deal of wealth. The moment that the miners make a good find and obtain a tiny fortune, what do they do? They go and invest their money in land. The possibilities of Western Australia with regard to agricultural and pastoral pursuits are simply enormous. Is it fair, then, to ask Tasmania to bear a share of the cost of building this transcontinental railway? I cannot see that it is. My honorable friends are grossly unfair in hurling at me the charge that I am un-Federal in spirit. They are not treating “ Tasmania rightly when they try to coax, coerce, and bully the representatives of that State into helping them to build their trunk line. The difficulties in the way of its construction are simply enormous. Who is to settle the width of gauge ? The project, as I said before, is most irregularly before the Senate. We have the consent of Western Australia, but we have really no consent from South Australia. I confess that in the document which my honorable friends pretend to regard as a consent, the Premier of that State most distinctly says that it will consent provided that it has a voice in determining the route and gauge. How honorable senators can allow the proposal to be considered in the absence of such consent, I cannot conceive. It is preposterous to say that the survey of the line is not part of the construction. Suppose that there was no Act of Parliament to authorize a survey. Do my honorable friends think that on the letters from the Premier of South Australia, the Auditor-General would pass an item of £20,000 for a survey when the Constitution prescribes that the consent of the State through which the railway is to be constructed must first be obtained? This may.be a small matter for honorable senators opposite, but would any law,er tell his clients that he was perfectly safe when he had obtained a letter of consent if an Act of Parliament were required ? If a lawyer is doing business for a client with a company, and knows that a consent under seal is required, will he be content with a letter from the secretary saying that the company will- consent? I venture to say that when the Commonwealth has spent, not £20,000, but £40,000, a route has been defined, and a little information has been obtained about the water supply, if it does not suit a majority of the members in the Parliament of South Australia, they will say, “ No, we do not approve of the route or the gauge. We think that we might lose a little traffic if a railway were built in that direction, and therefore we shall not consent to its construction.” In what position would the Commonwealth be then? Does not that possibly indicate what a folly we are asked to perpetrate? Is that the way in which Senator Walker would allow the Bank of New South Wales to conduct its affairs? la the absence of authority in the articles of association would he agree to the bank giving bonuses and annuities to old servants? I speak very strongly, because I feel that a wrong is being perpetrated against the States which are opposed to this project. I agree with the Minister of Defence that there is only one possible ground on which it can be justified, and that is the question of defence. What kind of case is there from that stand-point ? It is supposed that some day the Commonwealth- may want to transport an army from the east to the west of Australia. When will that day arrive? Certainly not in the near future. When my honorable friends have read the cablegrams as to what Germany is doing, let them not forget that the highest authorities have stated that the Navy of Great Britain at the present moment is stronger than any two navies in the world. How many years will elapse before its strength is overtaken ?
– But our dear coloured brothers, the Japanese, are coming along.
– Considering that we have a treaty with the Japanese, and that there is a very good feeling between England and Japan, even if there is not between the Labour Party of Australia and Japan, I think that my honorable friend might put that idea out of his mind. If, however, he is going to rest upon that bogy as a justification for building the railway, I should like to hear what he has to say.
– Not wholly.
– In New South Wales there is a Defence League which has issued a little journal embodying the professional opinion of some of the best soldiers in the mother State. They tell us that a railway from Oodnadatta to the Northern Territory would be far more valuable for defence purposes than would be the proposed’ transcontinental railway.
– What military authorities is the honorable senator quoting - writers in a newspaper?
– All the military authorities who are interested in the Defence League, and who mapped out its policy. If the Minister can deny the accuracy of their statements let him do so.
– I do not know who they are.
– A sentence has been quoted in which Sir Edward Hutton said that it might help the question o’f defence to have this transcontinental railway built. But what were his last words on the point? He said that we would have no army to send if we had a railway.
– We have the men now. How would the proposed cadets get across the country?
– The Minister cannot afford to spend more than £23,000 a year to drill the youth of the Commonwealth, and yet he asks the Senate to vote £5,000,000 for the construction of a railway to take to Western Australia an army which the late General Officer Commanding told him that he did not possess.
– No, I do not.
– The honorable senator knows that two years ago the Labour Party reduced the’ defence vote by £160,000, and left the Army without arms, ammunition, guns and accoutrements. Although he cannot afford to spend £100,000 to keep the Army up to something like the mark, yet he asks the Senate to spend £5,000,000 simply because once in a century it may have to be conveyed to Western Australia. Was there ever such folly exhibited ! Where is the Federal spirit now, or the common sense? Let me “repeat my idea of dealing in an Australian spirit with this project, bearing in mind the words of Sir John Forrest that the rich State of Western Austrafia can afford to build her trunk lines. In my opinion, Western Australia ought to do as every other State has done.
– What about South Australia ?
– Perhaps South Australia may not be able to afford to build a railway to her border, although she would gain all the advantage from the provision of railway communication - through her territory. This railway, if built, would be a great advantage to the two States in that it would open, up a large area of land from which they would derive enormous benefit. Possibly in the distant future it would help in the defence of the Commonwealth, and almost immediately it was built it would facilitate the transmission of the mails. On account of the utility of the railway from the stand-point of defence and carriage of mails, we ought to be prepared to give the two States a liberal subsidy towards its construction. Let us helD them in every reasonable way we can. and allow them to borrow upon the credit of the Commonwealth £4.000,000 or £5.000,000 or £6.000,000 for that purpose.
– No one has yet attempted to show who would work the railway when completed.
– I presume that if the Commonwealth constructed the railway it would have to create a Railway Department. I should like Senator Pulsford or Senator Walker to point out in what way my proposition is anti-Federal. Beyond all question the construction of the line is a State matter, in the first instance, though I admit that from the stand-point of defence and carriage of mails the Commonwealth is interested. Is it not only right that the two States should recognise that it is a State matter in the first instance, and a Commonwealth matter last? I do not care how liberal the Commonwealth subsidy to the States may be. I want to help Western Australia just as I desire to help every other- State, but I repudiate the notion that the construction of this railway is a Commonwealth matter entirely. It has been stated that, on each side of the route of the line, Western Australia has set aside a tract twenty-five miles wide. That reservation was ‘ made, I think, after the project had been criticised in the Senate, because they felt that the Commonwealth and the States which would not benefit by the construction of the railway should have an indemnity. I think it would puzzle any honorable senator, even from Western Australia, to state on what terms this tract of country is to be given to the Commonwealth. Recognising that she had made a mistake in professing that the construction of the railway was a Commonwealth matter. Western Australia offered in the first instance to guarantee the loss on the working of the line for a period of ten years. That shows clearly that it is a State matter.
– To benefit one State only.
– Yea Then I understand that the Western Australian Government have decided to vest land on 25 miles of each side of the line, but that it is not to be an absolute gift to the Commonwealth. It is simply to be devoted to make good any loss which mav be sustained. I do not know whether Senator Smith can tell me how the matter stands.
– The Commonwealth is to have the whole 6f the revenue from the land, whatever it may be.
– “Until we recoup our loss? The matter is arranged in such an unbusiness-like way that although we are dealing with some millions of acres of land, no honorable senator can tell us in what way it is to be placed at the disposal of the Commonwealth.
– I have told the honorable senator.
– Then I understand that Senator Smith agrees with me that the land is to be held in trust, and that the Commonwealth will simply receive the purchase money as a guarantee against loss.
– What evidence have we that it is to be held in trust?
– Before we pass a Survey Bill we ought to have the Acts of Western Australia before us, and to understand clearly what the guarantee is. The land should be ear-marked and nut into a trust; and it ought also to be insured that the Commonwealth will give no more than a Liberal subsidy for those purposes which are Federal in their nature.
– That can be done after the survey is made.
– The honorable senator talks one way in the Senate, and quite another way, I am sure, in his bank parlour. I do not want to have matters fixed up after, but before, the survey. I want to see the terms and conditions of the bargain, just as I should do if I were acting as solicitor for a client. If senators are going to depart from those plain business principles which guide them in the management of their own affairs, sooner or later such a method of doing things will bring disaster upon the country
Senator McGREGOR (South’ Australia”) [3.2L - I thought that Senator Dobson would introduce the marriage tie even in a debate of so serious a character as this. He has accused Western Australia of affecting the marriage tie in Tasmania.
– The honorable senator might as well refrain from vulgar and irrelevant remarks.
– I can call other honorable senators to witness as to the statement of the honorable senator, that men from Tasmania went to Western Australia and did not contribute to the maintenance of their families in his State. I hope, however, that this question will be viewed from a Commonwealth point of view, not from a parish pump aspect. I admit that the States of Australia have their rights, which have to be guarded by the Senate; but far above State rights I have always put the rights of Australia, which are much superior to those of any single State. If Tasmania is not in a position to afford the very small sum that she may be asked to contribute in return for the considerable benefit which she may receive from a development such as the construction of this railway will entail, it is owing to the fact that gentlemen of Senator Dobson’s type, who had the reins of Government in their hands in days gone by, have kept Tasmania in an inferior position. From my knowledge of that State I can say that her potentialities are almost equal to those possessed by any country of the size on the face of the earth. It is the verv same spirit to-day that is influencing that class of individuals with respect to the Commonwealth. We have only to look at what has been clone in other parts of the world to derive a lesson which should be of some benefit to Australia from the stand-point of railway construction. I have heard honorable senators say that we ought to do everything in our power to develop the resources of Australia. Every one knows that this country has very large tracts o’ land which are not blessed with the most bountiful rainfall, or the most ample supply of water. How are those portions of the continent to be developed if we in the Federal Parliament do nothing to assist in that process. In what position would be the central and eastern portions of the United States if the same policy had been pursued as is advocated by those who support Senator Dobson’s view? The development of Canada would also have been greatly retarded if the same spirit had prevailed there as has been evinced hy’. gentlemen like Senator Styles and Senator Dobson. Railways are the avenues of commerce. Is it the intention of honorable senators who oppose this Bill that the Commonwealth shall always remain hamperedby State obstruction ? Must the day never come when the railways of Australia will be controlled, not by the States, but by the’ Commonwealth Government? I hope that’ that day will come, and this Bill is the beginning of that policy. Let me tell honorable senators what I believe would bring prosperity to Australia without injury either to Tasmania or Victoria, even if they contributed their share of the cost without receiving direct benefit. It has been said that what is contemplated is not a transcontinental undertaking. Well, the portion of the line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie may not be transcontinental ; hut I expect and hope that in the not very distant future the line from
Kalgoorlie will not run to Port Augusta alone, but will stretch across Australia to New South Wales, and be connected with Sydney. I also hope and anticipate that the line will extend in a north-easterly direction to Birdsville and Innamincka. In that way communication will be established with Queensland. When that is done, we shall have a real transcontinental line. I also hope, and have faith enough in Australia to believe, that a line will be constructed from Oodnadatta to the Northern Territory, thus connecting every portion of Australia with every other portion by railway, not only for the purposes of defence, but also for the carriage of the produce of various parts of this vast continent. Only those who have hopes of that description, and who anticipate that those hopes will be realized, can claim that they are acting in the best interests of the country. It may lae said that it is not in the interests of South Australia and Victoria to construct the line. But those States are not the Commonwealth. Am I, or is any representative from South Australia, to say that we are going to retard development because a few tons of mails may cross the continent from Fremantle to Sydney, or to Brisbane, by rail in the future, and will no longer go through South Australia or Victoria? We should not be federalists, nor should we be Australians, if we looked at the matter from that point of view. Senator Dobson and Senator Styles have declared that the route of the proposed railway will traverse barren desert country. The evidence given in support of that statement is that of a gentleman who has travelled from Laverton to Oodnadatta. But why did not Senator Dobson look at the map of Australia to see where Laverton and where Oodnadatta are, and where the proposed railway would run? Laverton is a couple of hundred miles north of Kalgoorlie - nearly at the centre of Western Australia ; and Oodnadatta is 300 or 400 miles north of Port Augusta - nearly at the centre of Australia itself. If a line be drawn from Laverton to Oodnadatta, honorable senators will realize bow near that would be to the route proposed to be surveyed for the purposes of this line ! I believe that as part of a general Commonwealth scheme of railway construction, what is now proposed should be the first undertaking. What has been the great difficulty in South Australia with regard to her transcontinental line? It has been that she has commenced from both ends, but that in both instances the lines have ended at places where there is no business to be done, no goods to be carried, no traffic. But in connexion with the proposed Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway we shall have a line running direct from the populous States in the east to a populous centre in Western Australia - one of the most important centres in the world so far as gold-mining is concerned - a place where there are thousands of miners with their families, who desire to communicate with their friends in the most direct manner, and to receive from the eastern) States such supplies as cannot be produced upon the spot. When the railway is constructed, the time will have arrived for commencing the construction of the other lines connecting New South Wales and Queensland, including a transcontinental line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I also hope the day will arrive when New South Wales and Queensland will be directly connected with the Northern Territory, quite apart from ant transcontinental line in the direction I have indicated. What I mean is a line by Bourke, through Queensland, ultimately joining the line at Pine Creek. That is a scheme that ought to be in the minds of those who have the development of Australia at heart - it is a. scheme that we ought to work for on every occasion. Until that spirit dominates the people, and we’ are prepared to do something to make Australia the nation it ought to be, we shall remain in the position in which Tasmania has been kept by the parsimonious politicians of the past. I have no desire to labour this question - we have dealt with it on a previous occasion - but I should like to can the attention of honorable senators to just one other aspect of it. This is a question that has been discussed in another branch of the Commonwealth Parliament, where honorable members for other States number four or fivefold the representatives of Western Australia. Despite these circumstances, this Bill has been passed with the approval of the representatives of the more popular States. Is the Senate going to block the Bill much longer? Are honorable senators not aware that the constitutional limit to the’ blocking of a measure of this kind must be arrived at sooner or later, when they will be compelled to submit ?
– Bv whom?
– By the Constitution. The honorable senator has only to look at the position of the Senate in relation to another place as set forth in, 1 think, section 57 of the Constitution-
– There is only one power that can mould the Senate,, and that is the electoral power.
– It is the electors of Australia who sooner or later will make it manifest to honorable senators that the desire of the public is for closer union between the people of Australia. For those reasons I have supported the Bill in the past, and shall support any similar measure when the opportunity presents itself.
– Circumstances have not materially changed since we discussed this question last year. I then arrived at the conclusion that I could not vote for the proposal, and I stated one or more conditions which I thought should be precedent before we could vote for a line of this sort. This is a proposal to initiate on behalf of the Commonwealth a railway policy. I think that when we decide on commencing railway construction we should do so on some definite plan. One condition that we should lay down is that the Commonwealth should become the owner, actually and in fact, of any railway it constructs. If the Commonwealth constructs a railway through territory that it does not possess, while it may manage that railway, it cannot be said to be the owner. Therefore, it seems to me that when we commence railway construction it should be on the land grant system.
– Is this a Bill for the construction of the railway?
– No ; but unless we pre-suppose the subsequent construction of the railway, the Bill is useless. As Senator Styles pointed out, - the cost of the survey of a railway is always regarded as part of the cost of construction, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the railway will be payable. It seems to me that we should lay down the principle that when the Commonwealth makes a railway, it should have from the States, through which the railway will pass, a substantial land grant - not a conditional, but an absolute grant. If there were such a condition in connexion with the Bill, that alone would induce me to vote for it. However, I admit that there is considerable- force in the argument presented by Senator McGregor, and also by Senator Smith in the very admirable speech which the fatter made in support pf the construction of this railway. The argument is that there must come a time when this Chamber must cease to resist legislation presented repeatedly by another place. I am one of those who have always held that while this Chamber has, and should maintain,’ considerable independence of action, it, after all, is under the Constitution a Chamber of revision and reasonable delay. This is not a Chamber which, if it had the power, should continually refuse to sanction legislation which has repeatedly received the indorsement of another place. While I cannot vote for the Bill this session, I can easily see conditions that would induce me to vote for it, with the modifications I have indicated, next session, if it be presented in the same way. The Bill has now been presented twice to the Senate, after having, I think, been indorsed three times by another place. If the Bill comes again to the Senate, it will be after a general election for another place, and after a period during which public attention will have been unmistakably directed to it. Therefore, while it might easily be said that another place does not represent, on this occasion, the opinion of the Commonwealth, it will scarcely be open to any of us to make the same remark next session, after a general election for another place and the election of half the members of the Senate.
– This railway might not be a prominent question at the general election.
– It cannot help being a question in the public mind. It is one of the misfortunes of settlement by a general election, that there is always a large number of confusing issues. For instance, the personal element enters into all general elections to a much larger extent than is conducive to the best results. The only more direct method, of course, would be submission to the people by referendum ; but we have not embodied that policy in our Constitution, and, therefore, the best means we have are those we are shortly about to adopt. This question has been long before the electors, and if, after a general election, it is again presented to us that will certainly very materially influence my views regarding it. I do not intend to discuss again the many reasons there are why this Bill should not now be carried - these have been discussed at very considerable length - nor do I intend to adopt the course of pitting any State against another as a reason why a certain State should or should not receive a concession. But undoubtedly the matter is presented to us in the interests largely of one State, and, in a lesser degree, in the interests of another State. The view that I prefer to take is that this is regarded as a national railway, and that the main reason for its being constructed by the Federation is that it will be a valuable adjunct to our scheme of defence. I do not recognise that reason as pressing enough to warrant our adopting the Bill at this juncture. At the same time, I think that if this railway is not constructed in the meantime by the two States, through which it will run, it will, at some time, have to be constructed by the Commonwealth, if for no other purpose than that of completing our defence machinery. I shall not occupy further time, but simply say that I intend to vote against the present proposal. If the Bill is brought up again, I think it is highly probable that I shall be induced to vote in its favour.
– There is wonderful unanimity amongst honorable senators as to the ultimate necessity for the construction of a railway between western and eastern Australia. Yet each honorable senator seems to be only too ready to evade the fact that some practical steps are absolutely necessary before even a start with the construction of such a railway can be made. This Bill may be regarded as an initial step - that is to say, it is a Bill to provide that there shall be a survey over a certain territory with the object of doing a certain thing. When this or a similar Bill was before the Senate on a previous occasion the cry was raised by those honorable senators who so fluently to-day recognised the ultimate necessity of this line, that we had not sufficient information on which to take any step whatever. Since then we have had several reports from which I do not propose to quote. We have had reports from engineers and from several other unimportant, and more or less important, individuals, and we have also had the extraordinary and inordinately exaggerated statements of our friend, Senator Styles. All this shows that there must be a great deal of confusion in the minds of honorable sena- tors as to the country in regard to which it is proposed to seek information.
In the first place, I say, in answer to Senator Styles, that, as a Western Australian, I protest against the imputation which he hurled at the Government of Western Australia in speaking on this question to-day. We can understand that, in the heat of debate, a man will sometimes make extraordinary statements ; but it is inexcusable for an honorable senator who is dealing with a question which he professes to understand, and one to which he has given a great deal of thought, to make statements which he must know are grossly inaccurate, and absolutely injurious to the people about whom they are made. I wish to refer to the honorable senator’s criticism of the Federal spirit, as manifested in the action of Western Australia in sending a lecturer to Victoria to induce Victorian farmers to leave this State, and proceed to Western Australia to open up that country. Senator Styles must have known when he made that statement that it was grossly unfair, altogether inaccurate, and that there could not possibly be a more honest mission conducted by any man in any of the States of Australia than that conducted by the agent empowered by the Western Australian Government to lay before the people of Australia the true state of that country. On every occasion on which that agent entered upon a discourse he made it clear to the audience he addressed in the eastern States what the object of his mission was. He said, “ I have no desire, nor am I commissioned, to encourage, or for a moment to propose that you should leave your own State to go to Western Australia, and accept the inducements for land settlement offered there. But, seeing that people are leaving Victoria, that farmers and farmers’ sons are leaving this State for New Zealand, South Africa, and elsewhere, because there is neither room nor bread for them in Victoria at the present time, I wish to impress upon you the fact that, rather than leave Australia, it is desirable that you should look for yourselves at what we have to offer you in Western Australia.”
– Dot* that apply to New South Wales as well?
– It applies to every place at which the agent of Western Australia delivered an address. I venture to say that he never on any occasion attempted to do the mean despicable things of which Senator Styles’ imputation would accuse him.
– Did he wish to prevent people from leaving New South Wales ? :
– He wished to prevent people leaving Australia. That was the whole object of his mission. Men accustomed to land settlement and to farming were leaving Victoria in hundreds.
– Were such people leaving New South Wales also?
– People were leaving New South Wales also, but we know for a fact that they were leaving Victoria. At the same time we had a large country ready to receive them, and were offering inducements sufficiently good to warrant them ‘in giving it a trial.
– It was a very philanthropic act on the part of Western Australia.
– The mission of the agent of Western Australia was one of business, and if Senator Styles viewed it with an unprejudiced mind and a clear vision, having regard to the interests of Australia, he would admit that it was as honest and as noble a mission as any man could undertake.
– I should object to any man going from Victoria to Western Australia to induce settlers in that State to come here.
– The honorable senator would do nothing, of the kind. Men are going on similar missions from Victoria to Western Australia every day. There are commercial travellers and agents of one kind and another travelling in Western Australia with Victorian goods. What are they there for? They are there in the. effort to do honest business. What else are they trying to do? If Western Australia does not produce the goods these Victorian agents have to sell, she, at least, has land at her disposal ready for the production of the fruits of toil, and she simply says to the toilers, “ If there is no place in Victoria for you to put your spade in, come here, and put it in here, and receive the fruits of your toil.”
– There is plenty of room in New South Wales, and the Western Australian agent has been lecturing there also.
– There is not plenty of room in Victoria. It is all very well for the honorable senator to drag in New South Wales, but I can tell him that the agent of Western Australia put his case in New South Wales as clearly and as honestly as he did in Victoria.
– No one ever heard of such a thing being done before.
– What really is the honorable senator’s trouble? He opposes this Bill because he is absolutely afraid that if it is passed the whole of the little fallacy on which he and the Age have lived and gloried for years will be exposed in one act. He is afraid that it will be realized that Senator Styles, of desert railway fame, has absolutely missed his mark, and that the Age, which for so long has held up this country of Western Australia as a barren desert, has entirely failed to prove its case.
– And the Argus also.
– The honorable senator is afraid that it will be shown conclusively that spleen, prejudice, and every feeling that is opposed to the Federal spirit, and to the continuance of the Federation itself has been indulged in by both the Age and Senator Styles, in order, without the slightest information, to vilify this country. There are two essential matters which should be kept in mind in this debate, although they have been ignored by every opponent of the measure who has spoken. We say, first of all, that this Bill provides for no more than a survey of the route of the proposed railway - a mere search for information which it is essential we should have before any such thing as a proposition for the construction, of the tail way can be submitted.
– The honorable senator would not accept the survey as a redemption of the promise, which, he says, led Western Australia to enter the Union?
– I wish Senator Millen to understand that I am here today as one who, in Western Australia, opposed that State entering the Federation, and also as one who is to-day purely Federal in spirit. I am as anxious as is any member of the Senate to obtain the infor”mation sought for by the means proposed in this Bill. When that information has been obtained, I shall be prepared conscientiously to reason out the propriety or otherwise of entering at the present time upon such a huge scheme as the construction of the proposed railway will certainly be. I do not view the matter with the narrow-mindedness of parochialism, or with any idea that if the Bill goes through South Australia and Western Australia will be invested with some little halo. I regard the .Bill in the light in which .Senator Symon, who cannot be accused of being an enthusiastic supporter of anything connected with Western Australia, regarded it.
– He was in preFederal days.
– When on a previous occasion that honorable and learned senator introduced a similar Bill, he struck the keynote of the position. Referring to the measure he submitted, the honorable senator said -
It does not mean the construction of the line. I wish that to be perfectly clear, so that honorable senators may not be led away into arriving at a wrong conclusion by any mistaken impression sf that kind. The Bill does not commit, and is not intended to commit, the Senate or this Parliament collectively or individually to the construction of a transcontinental railway connecting South Australia with Western Australia.
Our contention from the outset has been that this Bill is merely a Bill for a survey, to show by demonstration whether the proposed line would be a reasonable project for the Federal Government to enter upon in the near future. If it is shown to be a project which the Commonwealth might take in hand, there can be no reason why that course should not be adopted. The proposed line would bind Western Australia to the eastern States, and if the project were shown to be one which would be beneficial commercially or in any other respect, I do not see why it should not receive the consideration due to it. There is another point to be considered, and I have always regarded these two points as most essential in the discussion of this measure. First of all, it is proposed, in order to secure information - to show the nature of the country and the probable cost of constructing the railway. Some honorable senators have tried to make out that if the survey should justify the construction of the line, it would cost from £8,000,000 to £18,000,000. In his speech, Senator O’Keefe furnished excellent proof of the unsoundness of that argument. He proved verv clearly that there is substantial reason for believing that those honorable senators have merely spoken of Western Australia as they usually do, and that is very wildly. My honorable friend went to the trouble of quoting from Coghlan the mileage rates at which the railways of the States have been constructed. After going very carefully into the subject, he discovered that, so far, Western Australia has constructed her railways at a cost of £5,812 per mile, or at considerably less than the mileage rate in any other State.
– A - At that rate, the cost of the transcontinental railway would come to about £5,000,000.
– What the honorable senator has really shown is, not that there is a reason why this Bill should not be passed, but that those who, like Senator Styles and, I think, Senator Mulcahy, have stated that the railway, would cost any sum from £8,000,000 to £18,000,000 are wrong.
– I do not think that any one has said that it would cost £18,000,000.
– I do not know where my honorable friend would stop, because he has made all sorts cf exaggerated statements concerning the project.
– M - Mine was a fair statement.
– It was a fair statement, and went to show that even the estimate of £5,000,000 might also be a little excessive. We want a survey made in order to find out whether it would be a costly railway to construct.
– At £5,812 per mile, it would cost £3,360,000 to build the railway on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge.
– I am not pledged to the honorable senator’s estimate.
– It is not my estimate, but the honorable senator’s.
– No ; I merely quoted Senator O’Keefe’s statement. He has shown the necessity for collecting information, rather than a substantial reason why the Bill should be rejected. In another part of his speech, he went on to do as Senator Dobson did twelve months ago, only that he picked up a different thread. When the Bill was being discussed on a previous occasion, Senator Dobson clearly showed that the reason why Tasmania was opposed to the railway was because there was no possible hope of building a railway across Bass Strait. On this occasion, Senator O’Keefe has come forward with a different proposition. He has said, in effect, “ If the senators from Western Australia would first of all agree to distribute the whole of the revenue on a per capita basis, they would find that the members of the Senate would consider their case with different minds.”
– Y - Yes; but the honorable senator did not develop the argument about the figures quite sufficiently’.
– I have dealt with the figures so far as I wish to do so for the time being.
– I - I quoted the cost of her lines in order to show that Western Australia is in a better position than any other State with regard to railway construction, and, therefore, should build her own railways.
– I have not the slightest objection to what the honorable senator has stated. .Surely the cost of this survey is not to involve the splashing of Western Australia’s revenue amongst the smaller States.
– To the extent of halfamillion.
– Apparently, £500,000 of Western Australia’s revenue per annum is all that Senator O’Keefe asks for his vote to make Tasmania contribute the paltry sum of £900 towards the “cost of survey.
– Tasmania would n°t get £500,000.
– No ; but Tasmania would get more than £900.
– What would Western Australia contribute towards the cost of the. survey - £1,250 ?
– That is a %’ery fair share of the cost. I did not propose . to refer to the feeling of the people of Western Australia on this question; but now that it has been raised I cannot help stating that the State was deluded into entering the Federation. I do not care who were responsible for the origination of the inducement. As one who was opposed to Western Australia entering the Union, I listened to the advocates of the Constitution Bill, and heard them from every platform holding out this inducement to the people.
– A survey or a railway ?
– A railway.
– Will the honorable senator accept a survey in redemption of the promise, which was for a railway?
– I am accepting the survey offered.
– What Senator Millen wants to know is whether the honorable senator would be satisfied with a survey.
– Does my honorable friend dream for a moment that I am so blind as not to see what he is driving at ? If the survey should prove that it would be a mad undertaking to construct the railway, I should be one of the first to rise here and record my vote against the Commonwealth incurring any expenditure in that direction. My honorable friends should keep in mind the fact that our defence system will continue to be incomplete whilst the isolation that Western Australia now suffers remains. Let me quote another passage from the speech of Senator Symon, when introducing the Bill, to show that he also entertained that view. He said -
Western Australia is a part of the Commonwealth, and is at present largely isolated from the rest of the Commonwealth. Quite apart from the question whether this large amount of money should be raised for the purpose of its construction, no one can deny that Western Australia may, on broad Federal grounds, apart from selfish motives, legitimately advocate the railway, and legitimately push any steps she may think desirable in that direction. I go further. I say the time must come when this iron road between Port Augusta and the nearest point of railway construction in Western Australia will be constructed, and will be a symbol of that union which, although I am not in favour of the immediate construction of the line, I freely admit is to a certain extent incomplete without it.
That shows clearly that even Senator Symon had before his mind the inducement which was held out to the people of Western Australia to join the Union, and also that he recognised the mere sham of the so-called Union, while Western Australia remained practically as isolated as if her territory were divided from the eastern States bv a sea a thousand miles wide. I hope that honorable senators will keep before their minds the fact that this Bill seeks to furnish us with what has been asked for by so many. In the interests of the Union, and with the idea of showing something like a Federal capacity for dealing with Federal matters, I hope that the measure will be passed.
– When Senator Dobson was speaking, he made a statement in a very positive manner concerning the action of the Labour Party with regard to the Defence Estimates. He stated that that party was responsible for cutting down the defence expenditure by something like £160,000. As the Bill now under consideration has something to do with defence, I propose briefly to correct Senator Dobson. He is entirely mistaken in his opinion. As a simple matter of fact, the only Estimates framed by the Labour Party relating to defence were those laid before Parliament during the time when I occupied the position of Minister of Defence. On that occasion we increased the defence vote by £125,000, and announced that that was only portion of a sum of £250,000 proposed to be expended for the purpose of establishing factories for the manufacture of arms and ammunition for the defence of the Commonwealth. I approach the question before the Senate as a supporter of the Bill, ‘fully realizing that in voting for- its second reading I am committing myself to a further work which will have to be undertaken hereafter. That is to say that, after the survey, I shall, if provided with an opportunity, vote for the expenditure of further money for the construction of the railway. I am indeed very strongly in favour of the line. The statements which have been made bv its opponents have been many and varied. A number of them will not bear close investigation. Senator Styles - who is a much respected member of the Senate, and whose opinion, especially on subjects of this kind> always carries weight - in that emphatic manner in which he is in the habit of speaking, corrected the statement made by other honorable senators as to the saving of time that would be effected in the transport of our mails from other countries to Australia. He quoted figures to show that by the construction of the line, very little, if any, time would be saved above the saving effected by putting on more powerful steamers than we have at present. He instanced the Loongana. But Senator Styles did not seem to realize that in dealing with the proposed railway, we have to do with something more than a line for the carriage of passengers and mails. The saving of time, in mv opinion, is an element that is worthy of consideration, but there are other arguments which are more weighty. I take this opportunity to congratulate Senator Styles on one point. It gives me great pleasure to do so, seeing that he is a “ little Australian.”
– I thank the honorable senator.
– On this question, the Victorians in this Parliament who are dominated by the Age are, I say, “ little Australians.”
– I was opposed to this scheme years ago, before the Age mentioned it.
– That journal has denounced the project in its well known sledge-hammer fashion. I must say that, while the other great morning daily, the Argus, mostly uses ,the rapier, the Age dances about with a bludgeon. It characteristically describes this as a “ desert railway,” stating that it would traverse country that is a barren desert, uninhabited, and not likely to be inhabited whether a railway is constructed through it or not. That statement, which, of course, the Age has never taken the trouble to verify is . quite contrary to f acts. I am pleased to find that even Senator Styles is prepared to admit that Western Australia is not, after all, such a barren country as we have been led to believe. Because, bear in mind, the country which the proposed line, if constructed, will traverse is of precisely the same character as country over which Western ‘Australia now has railways running. Senator Styles informs us that, while a short period ago Western Australia was not able to grow anything for herself, she has now become a formidable competitor with the eastern States. She is not only growing her own foodstuffs, but has become an exporter of wheat and fruits.
– More power to her 1
– Exactly ; but the fact that in a comparatively short space of time Western Australia has, by reason of the fertility and richness of her soil, been able to rise from the importing to the exporting stage, shows that she is likely,, with a comparatively small amount o’f development in the form of a railway service through her vast, rich lands, to become an even more formidable competitor in the open market than she now is.
– What I said was that the reason at first alleged in favour of the construction of the line was that it would enable perishable produce to be taken from Victoria and South Australia to Western Australia ; but that idea is now abandoned.
– The idea which Senator Styles says is now abandoned was formerly as firmly established in the minds of honorable senators representing eastern States as is the idea now reigning in their minds that the country to be traversed by the railway is nothing but a desert. The latter idea will also in the near future be broken down. As a matter of fact, I am happy to find that one Victorian senator has made the statement that if the question ever came before him again he would vote for the railway.
– If the Age were to drop the cry about the “ desert railway “ they would all vote for it.
– It is a good thing that the Western Australians have the Age to tilt at!
– It appears to me that honorable senators who are opposing this Bill start out with the supposition that the whole of the country which the line will tap is not fit for settlement, and that there is no country of a profitable character, either to Western Australia or to the Commonwealth, from the starting point to the end of the route. It is only natural to ask what is their reason for that conclusion, and what testimony do they furnish in support of it? In my opinion, the assumption is absurd and erroneous. I remember pointing out, when the matter was previously under discussion, that the land in question could not be such a hopeless and woeful desert, in face of the substantial fact that a man with his family, tra.velling in a hooded cart, took his goats, his cattle, his sheep, and his fowls over the whole route. That man did not by any means travel at railroad speed, but he did not lose one head of stock on the road.
– And then he applied for some of the land on the route.
– That is so; and I much prefer to accept his statements against the guesses and surmises of all the editors, who sit in little offices, publishing their opinions as “We.”
– And who never leave Collins-street.
– That is so. In the course of his remarks, Senator Styles referred to a number of what he considered un-Federal acts on the part df Western Australia in relation to Victoria. But even admitting those charges to be true, I contend that they form absolutely no argument against the survey and subsequent construction of this railway. If past Governments of Western Australia, in their narrowness and prejudice, have chosen to be unFederal towards Victoria, that is no reason why we, as a Commonwealth, should not view this question from a Commonwealth point of view, irrespective of such petty squabbles. I ask Senator Styles whether he is opposed to this Bill on the merits of the suggested railway, or merely in retaliation for the alleged un-Federal acts of Western Australia?
– I am opposed to the railway or. its merits, or rather on its demerits. I was opposed to such a railway before I ever heard of those other matters.
– If Senator Styles is opposed to the Bill on it’s merits, it is difficult to know why he should now seek to pick a quarrel with Western Australia on account of certain alleged un-Federal acts. Otherwise the honorable senator’s remarks in this connexion were unnecessary padding - an unnecessary raking up of ancient history.
– The honorable senator is doing me an injustice. I was merely explaining that Western Australia did” not stand head and shoulders over the other States as the particularly Federal State it has been represented to be.
– I am not aware that any representatives of Western Australia have ever made any such claim on the part of that State - that they have eve claimed that Western Ausralia contains the best people to be found in the Commonwealth. To a large extent, however, such a claim might be justified, because the population of Western Australia has been recruited from the best in the country, including that of Victoria. Many men went to Western Australia because they could get a better living there than in Victoria, with all the latter’s protection. The particular un-Federal .act of which Senator Styles complained was the sending out of a lecturer by the Government of Western Australia. Senator” Henderson has dealt most effectively with that point, but, in any case, I would urge that even such an act, if un-Federal, does not justify the opposition to the proposal before us, and that Western Australia is net the only culprit in the Commonwealth. The Queensland Government did not find it necessary to send out a lecturer, but they did issue an abundance of literature throughout the States, setting forth tie assistance which would be afforded to intending settlers, and, further than that, they entertained farmer delegates from Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia; with the result that a number of hardy settlers from each of those States went to the north. There is nothing un-Federal or dishonorable in such a proceeding.
– It seems to require a good deal of defending.
– If the sending out of a lecturer by Western Australia is unFederal, then Senator Styles, in approving of the employment of lecturers to secure immigrants from the old country, is absolutely disloyal to the Empire.
– The old country is not part of the Commonwealth.
– But the Commonwealth is part of the British Empire, and there we employ our Agents -General and lecturers, and issue literature, all with the object of inducing the strong and hardy people of the motherland to desert the aged parent and settle in Australia. I repeat that if Senator Styles’ argument holds good in regard to Western Australia, he himself is absolutely disloyal to the King, to whom he takes the oath of allegiance every time he is elected.
– Some of my remarks appear to have stuck !
– No one regrets more than I that in my youthful days I should have to correct a grey-haired senior in this fashion. But perhaps one of the most extraordinary statements even for Senator Styles in his most reckless moods, was made when he proclaimed with fervour and all the power of that sonorous voice he so happily possesses - when he gesticulated and beat the atmosphere with his mighty fist - that it was Victoria which found Wester,ni Australia - that Victoria discovered the Western Australian gold-fields and developed the mines, and made the railway system of the Western State pay. Then, however, the honorable senator became like a whimpering boy, and said, “ Please, Mr. President, we cannot make our railways pay in Victoria.” According to Senator Styles, Victorian brains, money, muscle, and enterprise have made Western Australia. If that be true, it strengthens not Senator Styles’ argument, but my argument. The fact shows that Western Australia was worth developing, and we desire to see the whole of that vast territory developed, and no surer or speedier means to that end could be found than the con struction of the railway now under discussion. We are told, as I have said, that Victoria made Western Australia.
– And Queensland.
– I believe that Senator Styles was concerned as an engineer in the construction of the Toowoomba line, which was the first made in Queensland. I do not know whether the honorable senator was “ in “ with the contractors, but I can say that that railway is an object lesson to every country in the world.
– I do not think that the Toowoomba line has anything to do with the proposal to make a survey for a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.
– At any rate, these remarks will be in order when I come to deal with the question of the indebtedness under which the various railway systems have placed the States, and of the still further cost which may be caused by the construction of the proposed line. In the meantime, I say that the finding of gold in Western Australia was the salvation of Victoria. Notwithstanding the prohibitive duties and the erection of great factories in Victoria - notwithstanding the railway communication with other States, and with the interior of the State itself - starvation was staring thousands in the face. The manhood of Victoria went to Western Australia, but left their wives and families behind. For some years the money orders sent from Western! Australia to Victoria represented something like £70,000 per month. This money was sent by working men who had left Victoria, and had found employment on the gold-fields of Western Australia The contribution is still going on, and I believe that at the present time the amount sent from Western Australia to Victoria in this way is about £30,000 per month. In the face of these facts, we have a prominent member of the Senate representing Victoria deliberately declaring that Victorian money is making Western Australia. This statement was made with a knowledge of the fact that all this money is being sent from Western Australia to Victoria bv Victorians who had sense enough to go to Western Australia to earn money for themselves, and to enable them to keep their wives and families.
– We should never have heard of Western Australia if it had noi been for Victorians.
– I do not think that our knowledge of Western Australia is due to Victorians, because both States were settled by the same class of settlers, who were induced to emigrate by some bewigged Judge in- the old country after they had been found guilty by a jury of their countrymen. To show the utter absurdity of the statement that Western Australia is under an obligation to Victoria, because of the amount of Victorian money which has been spent there. I may just remind honorable senators that Western Australia is not the only State to which Victorians have gone. Queensland has gladly received a large number of people who did not find it convenient or easy to get on well in Victoria. They have settled in the State I represent, very much to the benefit of that State, and to their own benefit.
– I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator, but surely the emigration of Victorians to Queensland can have nothing to do with the survey of this proposed railway.
– I am merely correcting the misstatements of Senator Styles. The honorable senator stated that one of his strong objections to the Bill was that Western Australia has made a profit on her railway system, whilst a large deficit has resulted from the working of the railways in the other States. ‘
– In four of them.
– In four of them, including Victoria. The honorable senator contended that it would not therefore be right to ask any of the other States, and particularly any of” the four specially referred to, to contribute in any way towards the survey provided for in this Bill, or towards the construction of the proposed line. I do not take that view. I look upon the construction of this line as not merely a matter in which Western Australia is concerned, or in which Western Australia and South Australia combined are concerned. If, since we have been a Commonwealth, any work projected by us can properly be designated by the term national, it is the construction of this railway. This is the consummation of Federation. The time must come, sooner or later when the whole of the railway systems of the States must be in the hands of the Commonwealth. We must make a start somewhere, and every time we spend Commonwealth money to facilitate in any way the construction of a railway in any of the States we shall be piling burdens upon ourselves as a Commonwealth, which must be shouldered when the , inevitable day comes on which we must take over these lines. To bunch the lines in any one State, and strike a percentage of loss on their working, and then compare the results with the operation of the Western Australian railways, does not give anything like a fair idea, of the true position. In all of the older States, huge blunders have been made in railway construction, blunders from which Western Australia has so far escaped. The state of affairs in Queensland, which I shall describe as briefly as possible, will apply with equal force to the other States. For many years, we know that all railways constructed were political railways, given as sops to placate constituencies without regard to whether they were required, the possibilities of development in the districts in which they were constructed, or the opening up of country, and the establishment of industries that would justify their construction. They were purely and simply political lines. Queensland has not escaped that method of railway construction. The main trunk line from Brisbane to Toowoomba, on which Senator Styles was an engineer, is a case in point. The survey in the first place was paid for at per mile. If the surveyor could make it 100 miles, he got paid for 100 miles, but if by the exercise of his professional skill be could run the survey out to 500 miles, he would be paid for that distance. It is on that principle that the line on which Senator Styles was an engineer was surveyed. The proof of it is to be found in the fact that from Helidon, where the famous Spa water is obtained, the distance by dray-road to Toowoomba is 12 miles, whilst by the railroad on which Senator Styles had applied his engineering skill the distance is 33 miles.
– Does the honorable senator really think that the question of whether that railway was properly constructed has any bearing whatever on the Bill?
– Those who oppose the measure offer as one of their strongest objections to being asked to contribute to the survey and subsequently to the cost of construction of the proposed line, the fact that deficits have resulted from the operation of lines already constructed in the eastern States. Senator Styles went so far as to stigmatize Western Australia as being mean for daring to ask for such a contribution. I am pointing out that the eastern States loaded themselves with a burden of railway debt in the old and foolish days, and it is unfair to argue that because they ma’de these mistakes in railway construction, Western Australia should be penalized when she asks the Federal Parliament to approve of a national proposal.
– The Queensland line to which the honorable senator refers is a paying line.
– That trunk line pays, and I might in passing, say that Toowoomba is the “ queen city “ of the Darling Downs, that the Downs country from Toowoomba to Warwick is as level as the table, that the railway circles round Toowoomba in going to Warwick, and on the journey from Warwick to Toowoomba the trains are backed into the station at Toowoomba. Whilst such mistakes as I have described may not have been made in all of the States, I have no doubt that in all of them railways have been made in places which were not the most suitable for the proper development of the country. I can refer honorable senators to a railway in North Queensland which goes back for a considerable distance from the best port in that part of the State and stops at a gum tree. The case is entirely different in Western Australia, and the errors, mistakes, and gross swindles which have been perpetrated in the eastern States in connexion with railway construction, do not bear in the slightest degree upon the connexion of Western Australia with the proposal of the Government in respect to this line. Referring to the value of property, Senator Styles said that the Collins-street property was of more value than the whole of Western Australia. Collins-street would naturally come tripping to the honorable senator’s lips as lightly as would cent, per cent, to the lips of the most miserable Shylock.
– The honorable senator is referring to an interjection, and the relative values of Collins-street property and Western Australia have nothing whatever to do with the Bill. I ask the honorable senator to argue the question before the Senate as far as he can.
– I wish to say that property in the city of Melbourne. Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, or any of the towns of the Commonwealth may be, will receive an added value when the East and Westare more firmly cemented together by the construction of this railway. Whether the value of the property in one Melbourne street is greater than that of Western Australia has nothing to do with the purpose of this Bill, and I therefore look upon Senator Styles’ statement about the value of Collinsstreet property as entirely irrelevant.
– That was only an interjection of mine.
– It was a statement made by the honorable senator when addressing the Senate.
– I thought it was an interjection.
– I direct the attention of Senator Styles to the fact that he is a member of a powerful political party in this State, which exercises a great influence in Victorian politics, and can make its power felt in Australian politics. I refer to the great Protectionist Party, that claims by the imposition of protective duties to build up Australian industries, and make the Commonwealth what it ought to be. Therefore, it is useless to expend time, money, and energy on the building up of everything great within our borders, if, at the same time, we do not take the necessary steps to see that it can be protected and held. In my opinion, one of the necessary steps in that direction is the construction of this railway. Other objections have been raised and answered. It has been urged that a very formidable objection is the question of the gauge. If that were a fatal objection we should not have railways running from South Australia into Queensland, because there is a break in the gauge. Granted that a uniform gauge from one end of our railway service to the other is a thing to be wished for, I distinctly assert that its absence is not a sufficient argument for delaying the construction of urgent railways. Expert opinions have been quoted as to which is the coming gauge in many parts of the world- ‘the 3 ft. 6 in. or the 4_ ft. 81 in. In the case of this railway, which, I contend, is an absolute necessity, we need not bother ourselves about the settlement of that question. If we did. not only Western Australia, but the Commonwealth would be deprived of a railway which ought to be constructed. I have already alluded to the matter of the “desert” country It is going beyond fair criticism for the opponents of this proposal to make definite statements of that description, unless they can quote either some facts or some authorities to that effect. They have not attempted to do either. On the other side, we have clear and distinct statements from persons who have traversed various portions of this country, and the conclusion at which they seem to have arrived is that the railway would go through the same class of country as does the railway from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie. I have already pointed out what a great benefit the discovery of gold at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie has been to Victoria, as well as to the Commonwealth as a whole. It is entirely a mistake for any one to say that the country to be traversed by the proposed railway is barren, and incapable of growing foodstuffs for either man or beast, because the land is really splendid. . If any honorable senator, when he was visiting Kalgoorlie, had taken the trouble to look round, he would have found that the miners had comfortable little homes where, with an excellent water supply, they were able to maintain a nice flower garden in the front, and a good kitchen garden in the rear. If anything further were needed to convince a Victorian as to the productive character of the country it is also to . be found in Kalgoorlie. Perhaps there is nothing on which a Victorian prides himself so much when he is conversing with visitors as the great and wondrous beauty of the Flemington race-course. I used to believe the tale which was told so often about their being no such race-course in any other part of the world. Like others, I used to admire Flemington; but when I visited Kalgoorlie, I knew which was the best race-course in Australia, and it is not the Flemington race-course. With the water laid on in that “barren” country. as it is called, everything which is required is grown ; in fact, it is a perfect garden. In view of the fact that great gold-fields which have been of wonderful benefit to the rest of Australia have been found in that class of country, surely we have good reason to hope that with the construction of the proposed railway gold-fields may spring up all along its route to further enrich the Commonwealth, and to bring here that population which we ought to have? It is beyond the power of any person to say that the gold is confined to Kalgoorlie. The value of any mineral field to the Commonwealth is hardly to be calculated. In Queensland we have a mineral field called the Chillagoe, and to that field - a good distance from the coast - a railway was constructed for the purpose of taking there machinery to erect and work machinery for the reduction! of the ore, and to put the ore on the market.
– By whom was it constructed ?
– By a private syndicate, whose proposal I opposed. I should, oppose the construction of this transcontinental railway if it were proposed, as was suggested by Senator Walker, that it should be constructed by a syndicate. In the case of the Chillagoe mineral field the opposi-tion was not to the construction of the railway, because we believed that it would be the means of developing the district, but to the line passing out of the control of the State. The syndicate thought so well of the country that when the Government would not construct the line, they agreed to’ do so, and that was only for the opening of a little field. What are the possibilities in traversing the great belt of country from Kalgoorlie to South Australia? The most important aspect of this project is, I think, the question of defence. It is an absoluteessential to the defence of Australia. In the event of a hostile attack the two vulnerable points, I take it, would be “Western Australia and Queensland. We are now in this ridiculously foolish position, that we’ have not a railway system by which we could concentrate troops to repel an attack. I know that it has been urged that we have a navy to protect the coast line. I do not wish to disparage that navy, but I believe that we spend, and are likely to spend, considerably more than is asked for the construction of a railway, which would do us some good, on an alleged navy, which 1 cannot see is going to do us any good. Whatever use it may be now will disappear in the event of trouble arising. For defence purposes I consider that the expenditure on the navy is absolutely wasted. Bui there is not a penny of the sum which would be expended on the construction of this railway which could not be amply justified from the defence stand-point. Suppose that Victoria. New South Wales, and South Australia were threatened by an enemy. It would not be with a few mines that we should need to fight. We would require to concentrate our troops at the forts at the vulnerable points as soon as the enemy .had made his appearance. In support of the construction of railways for defence purposes alone, we had a splendid illustration of what enterprising people can do in their hour of trial and trouble in the late war between Russia and Japan. Quite apart from possible developments for commercial gain or the permanent settlement of people, both Powers laid down railways on the solid ice for the protection of their interests. In view of all the other considerations which we have to bear in mind, we might very well be induced by that example to consent to the construction of this railway. I know of no proposition that has come before the Senate which has been more worthy of support than is this one. Nor do I know of one which is of greater urgency and necessity.
– I should have thought that, seeing that many honorable senators are supposed to be opposed to this Bill, it would not have been necessary for three or four of its supporters in succession to address the Senate. However, I do not know that, at this advanced stage of the debate, I can say anything that will break down the unfriendliness and the un-Federal spirit that have been manifested.
– That is the very worst thing the honorable senator can say. He should not begin by throwing mud.
– Senator Mulcahy is eternally posing as a model of propriety, and eternally criticising other people; but there is no man in the Senate whose example I should be more sorry to follow than his. He is too fond of carping at others. His general practice is to make a few ill-mannered interjections, and then go out of the chamber.
– When the honorable senator begins to speak.
– Well, it is no honour to me to have him here when I am speaking. If he cannot conduct himself with some degree of good manners, I would rather not have him present. I should not have taken up the time of the Senate in speaking upon the motion for the second reading had it not been that some honorable senators have made statements which ought to be contradicted, and have thrown out a challenge which, if not taken up, might be said to be unanswerable. I wonder at some of the statements made, because they have been refuted several times. When Senator Styles was speaking he referred to the nature of the country which the proposed line would traverse. After the statements which have been made, from time to time, on the authority of engineers who have reported upon the country in question, either for the State or the Federal Government, very little that is new is left to be said on the subject. If the route were a barren desert, as we are sometimes told, how do honorable senators account for the fact that, as shown by the reports, it is so luxuriously furnished with herbage and trees? Copies of the Western Mail just to hand contain illustrations showing a place known as Black Range, one of the new gold-fields, between 200 and 250 miles from Kalgoorlie. These illustrations show the country under the effects of a storm, which resulted in a rainfall of 4 inches at one time, the consequence being that the place was flooded. A place where such a downfall can be recorded can never be called rainless. What is more, a country that can bedescribed in the language that Mr. Muir uses, in his report on the land between Kalgoorlie and Eucla, cannot properly be described as a desert. He speaks of if as containing millions of acres of splendid . pastoral land, which is at present lying idle.
– Why is it lying idle?
– It is easy to understand why land so far from settlement is not occupied. Mr. Muir says that the land is well timbered, whilst there is a luxuriant growth of grass and herbage. He also speaks of the presence of salmon gum. It is well known that in the salmon gum country we possess the best agricultural land in Western Australia. The presence of that timber, in fact, is always taken as an indication of the quality of the country. Mr. Muir says -
Interspersed through this forest are numerous flats covered with grass, as well as with salt bush and other fodder shrubs. The soil is of good quality, and the growth of grass and herbage luxuriant. For the next100 miles the nature of the country varies somewhat, being comprised of alternate beds of native oak, salmon gum, and gimlet wood. Belts of spinifex and scrub are also crossed. At about 200 miles rolling downs of limestone formation are met with, covered with a luxuriant growth of grass, and occasionally a salt-bush flat.
This country is described as possessing a beautiful park-like appearance.
– How far does the good land extend?
– Mr. Muir speaks of 200 miles of it.
– Why does not the State Government build a railway there?
– If a State having a population of only a quarter of a million had money enough to build a railway, certainly it would not ask the Commonwealth to undertake the “work. But the task is one that no small State could possibly undertake.
– Two hundred miles of railway would not cost so very much.
– What would be the use of running 200 miles of railway into pastoral- country ? Another Government officer has recently been over this same country, and it is reported -
He fully indorses Mr. Muir’s observations as to the promising appearance of the country, and its eminent suitability for pastoral purposes. Far from this country being a desert, there is, according to this authority, no sand within the limits of the wide belt of territory which would be served by the proposed railway. A loam soil covers the limestone formation to a depth of 4 feet, which, were surface water only sufficiently plentiful, would be well adapted for agricultural operations. The more southerly alternative route - that from Kalgoorlie to Eucla - would pass through yet richer country. Along this line the land bears more timber, the prevailing varieties being mulga, South Australian sandalwood (both good fodder plants), and mallee; while cotton-bush, blue-bush, salt-bush, tussock, and annual grasses - such as mitchell, wire, &c. - also flourish abundantly. The climate is perfect, the dryness of the atmosphere preventing the heat from being disagreeable. The whole country abounds with game, both running and flying, which find abundant subsistence on the profusely growing vegetation.
When Senator Styles was speaking to-day, he stated that not a bandicoot, a kangaroo, nor an animal of any description could live in this desert country. Here we have the statements of men who have been through it, and who say that both running and flying game are there in abundance. Surely that proves that it is by no means desert country. If it were we should not find game there, nor should we have the .kind of grass and timber that has been described. Senator Styles also referred to the promises made by prominent men, who were charged with the great task of bringing about the establishment of the Australian Commonwealth. We have been told that no matter what these leading Federalists may have said, this Parliament is not pledged. It is a pity Parliament is not pledged, because the promises to which I refer were taken as pledges by those who listened to the speeches. The people of Western Australia, on the strength of those’ promises, entered into Federation. I regret that there is not sufficient morality in the community to insist upon the promises being redeemed.
– “ Political morality,” the honorable senator means.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator would call it political; the simple word “morality” will cover what I have in my mind. I can assure the Senate that if the people of Western Australia had not believed that the railway would be built, that their State would thereby be connected with the East, and that the only federation that is worth the name would be brought about, they would not have accepted the Commonwealth Bill until the question was settled.
– Is it not curious that the railway was never mentioned at the Convention ?
– Then how is it that Senator Dobson read from the minutes of the Convention the statement which he did to-day ? I admit that I have not looked up the Convention debates to see whether the subject was mentioned, but I heard Senator Dobson’s quotations.
– This railway was never mentioned at the Convention. I have Sir John Forrest’s authority for saving so.
– Did not the honorable senator read a reference to it from the Convention debates?
– No; nothing that I read referred to this railway.
– Then I certainlymisunderstood the honorable senator.
– I have looked through the index to the debates, and can find no reference to a transcontinental railway.
– Whether any reference was made at the Convention to a transcontinental railway, I am not in a position to say. However that may be, we must remember that the people of Western Australia did not elect the delegates to the Convention. The interests of Western Australia were placed in the hands of a few men, nominated, not even by the Parliament. L-ut by the Premier; and the goldfields’ electors had practically no voice in the matter. Had the delegates been elected by the people, as in Victoria and elsewhere, there would have been no doubt as to the position in regard to a transcontinental railway. I admit that before I entered this Chamber, I had no practical experience of politics or politicians; but, in common with other Western- Australians,
I certainly thought that in view of the explicit and earnest promises given by such statesmen as Mr. Deakin, Mr. Kingston, Sir Frederick Holder, and Sir Josiah Symon, that no obstacles would be raised by any of the other States to the construction of a railway to the West. Had there deen any doubt in the minds of the people of Western Australia, the result of the referendum as to Federation might have been very different. As showing the state of feeling in Western Australia, I may say that when Mr. Vosper, one of the most deservedly popular men in Western Australia, attempted to address a meeting in opposition to Federation, on the ground that a stipulation as to a transcontinental railway should be expressly placed in the Constitution, he could not obtain a hearing, so enthusiastically loyal were the people to the cause of Union.
– I was under the impression that the people of Western Australia hesitated about Federation.
– The people of Western Australia never hesitated. The only time there was any doubt in this connexion was during a separation movement on the gold-fields ; but as soon as the coastal population abandoned their hostile attitude, that movement came to an end, and all declared for Federation. I mention these facts to show that in the minds of the Western Australian people there was no doubt as to the genuineness of the promises made in regard to a transcontinental railway. Who, for instance, would doubt the promise of such, a sterling democrat as Mr. Kingston? No matter how men mav differ from that gentleman in politics, very few would deny that he is a man of his word. As a matter of fact, before Federation- was adopted by the people of Western Australia, Mr. Kingston proposed that a transcontinental line should be constructed ; but the idea was abandoned “owing to the attitude of the Western Australian Government. The position taken up bv Western Australia at that time was that, with the enormous burden of administering a territory so extensive, an enterprise of the kind was out of the question. The reasonableness of this position will be recognised at once. We have heard a great deal about the heavy load which the administration of the Northern Territory imposes upon the people of South Australia. It must be admitted that that expenditure has been met for a long time by South Australia ; and, in- my opinion, the burden ought to be shared by the other States. The States on the eastern seaboard, where the population is closer, the lands richer, and sources of taxation greater, are much better equipped to pay the cost of administering a territory of the kind than is a handful of people in South Australia or in Western Australia. Great as is the territory held by South Australia, that of Western Australia is still greater, though the population in the latter State is the smaller. These are all considerations which the people of Australia must face sooner or later ; and, in my opinion, it is altogether unjust to ask those who do the pioneering work on the confines of this island continent to bear the heavy burdens to which I have alluded. All these questions ought to be dealt with in a Federal spirit. To-day much ridicule has been cast on the “ Federal spirit ,! ; indeed, we have heard Senator Styles declare that when anybody speaks to him of the “ Federal spirit “ he begins to button up his pocket. I am convinced that Federation will prove a failure if we continue to look at Federal questions from such a point of view. I could understand an honorable senator, in a moment cif pique, occasioned bv continual injustice inflicted on- his State, expressing such sentiments ; but can any representative of Victoria complain of injustice? If we contrast the position of Victoria to-day with her position before Federation, we must admit that no State has gained more byFederal legislation. If it had not been for Federation, it is hard to imagine that there would have been even a population of 1,000,000 to-day in Victoria. That State, however, has now got over the worst; and I repeat that her improved position is due to Federal laws, and I stand here as one who has taken a hand in furthering the present prosperity. As a protectionist, I have always voted for the encouragement of industries in Victoria, knowing well that from such votes my own State of Western Australia could reap no direct benefit. As one who has given a Federal vote on ever*- question since I entered this Chamber, I have a right to demand from Victorians similar treatment in regard to Western Australia. Protection cannot benefit all the States equally, but other means may be found to extend a helping hand ; and the most urgent need of Western- Australia is railway communication with the rest of the Commonwealth. Without a railway Federation will be en- tirely void of any real and substantial benefit, so far as Western Australia is concerned.
– Is this secession?
– I have said nothing about secession, and the suggestion is unworthy of the honorable senator.
– I thought the honorable senator was arguing secession; I beg his pardon.
– I am showing, in moderate language, the benefits which Victoria has gained bv Federation; and I have a right to point to the part I have played in creating those benefits.
– Unless Western Australia secures this benefit Federation will be void of any good?
– It will be void of any good to Western Australia Surely that is a fair argument. To show the way in which Victoria, has benefited by the state of affairs we have brought about in the opening of our Western Australian market to her industries, I have only to quote the Customs returns for the last few years. I find that in the matter of trade between Western Australia and the eastern States Victoria has benefited to a greater extent than all the other States of the Commonwealth combined.
– She was doing so before Federation.
– I might remind the honorable senator that, -but for Federation, we could have closed our markets to Victoria to a large extent. As a protectionist, I should have adopted that course if Western Australia had remained a separate State, but as a Federalist I have agreed to the markets of the various States being thrown open one to the other. Owing to the liberal protection which Victorian industries received at my hands, and at the hands of other members of the first Federal Parliament. Western Australia has contributed to the trade of Victoria to an extent which justifies some better consideration than that indicated in the speech of Senator Styles.
– Did not the people of Western Australia get their foodstuffs cheaper because of the lower duties imposed on them?
– Probably they did.
– I suppose that the reason that they got so much from Victoria was that they could get the goods they required from that State cheaper than from any other.
– I do not believe that the people of Western Australia, any more than the people of any other State, would go out of their way to pay 2s. for what they could get for is. But I should like to inform the honorable senator that if Federation had not been brought about the markets of Western Australia would have been opened to the old country rather than to Victoria. The movements of trade in the State show that since Federation Victoria has been displacing the old country in this direction. That is certainly one of the results of Federation. During the last ten years Victoria has benefited by her access to the markets of Western Australia to the extent of £14,000,000; South Australia has benefited to the extent of £7,500,000; New South Wales to the extent of £5,000,000 ; and Tasmania and Queensland to the extent of about £500,000 each.
– Then South Australia has, in proportion to population, derived the greatest benefit from the trade with Western Australia.
– I ask honorable senators to consider now how much Western Australia has sold to the other States. How much has Victoria bought from Western Australia? The amount represented by the purchases of Victoria from Western Australia is so small that it is scarcely worth mentioning.
– She has paid a good deal for mining shares, and has lost the money.
– As a matter of fact, South Australians have put more into mining in Western Australia than have Victorians.
– Yes, more money has been sent to Western Australia from Adelaide than from Melbourne. It is not only in trade alone that Victoria has benefited by her connexion with Western Australia to a greater extent than any of the other States. During the past ten years in the matter of remittances of money from Western Australia, Victoria again heads the list, and has received more than double the amount sent to any of the other States. In the period mentioned, the amount which Victoria has received in this way is over £2,500,000. This is money which miners, who were forced out of Victoria in order to earn a living for themselves and their families, have sent to their families, who have been resident in this State.
– Would they not have done that if there had been no Federation ?
– I question whether the remittances would have amounted to so large a sum.
– They were doing it largely before Federation.
– Certainly some remittances were being sent from Western Australia to the other States before Federation, but I would point out that if Western Australia had remained a separate State she could have taken action which would have considerably restricted the flow of money to the other States. Action might have been taken by the Post and Telegraph Department of the State to make it rather an expensive domestic arrangement for a man to be earning money in Western Australia, and sending it to Victoria to be spent. Under Federation, of course, any such action would be un-Federal and wrong. South Australia has received in remittances from Western Australia during the past ten years a sum amounting to £812,886, and New South Wales £009,215. I find that a considerable sum has also been received by Tasmania in this way. This is the State to which Senator Dobson referred when he said that men had cleared out from their families, and forgot to send along anything to keep them. I find that the honorable and learned senator in making that statement was blackguarding the character of those men in a way- that I think was atrocious.
– That is a shameful thing to say. I said some of them, and I know professionally that some of them have done what I said they did. How dare the honorable senator put into my mouth a slander like that? It is like him.
– Men who neglect their families are to be found in every part of the world.
– That is what I say.
- Senator Dobson must have known when he made the statement he did that it was most unfair to many men who went from Tasmania to Western Australia, and have sent remittances to their families in Tasmania. Notwithstanding the honorable senator’s weakness for dragging the difficulties of the married state into every argument, I find that £181,000 was sent in the form of remittances from Western Australia to Tasmania.
– A good deal of that money was sent to “ Adams.”
– A portion of itno doubt was ; but that is so tender a part of the Tasmanian anatomy that I do not care to touch it. Queensland received in remittances from Western Australia the sum of £127,000, a much less amount than Tasmania received in proportion to population. The total amount received from Western Australia by the other States in the form of remittances in the period mentioned amounted to something like £3,000,000. That is a very handsome sum, and it is a sum which, as I have pointed out, might have been very materially reduced if, under Federation, Western Australia had been able to take the action which she might have taken to reduce that amount if she had remained a separate State. Considering that Western Australia has been practically a milch cow for the other States, the least we could expect was that the clear and explicit promises made in pre-Federal days by men whose words we thought could be relied upon would have been fulfilled. Considering the benefit which the eastern States have derived under Federation from Western Australia, that is an aspect of the question which would be considered by those who speak as Senator Styles has spoken to-day. - The honorable senator said that the moment any man speaks to him of the Federal spirit, be begins to button up his pockets, and to look around for some safe place to get to. If that is to be the spirit which is to animate the Senate in legislation, the outlook for the future must be considered to be a very gloomy one. It will certainly not reflect any credit upon the Federal Parliament, and it must tend to retard the good results we had a right to expect from Federation. If people are continually suffering, if the State in which they live is all the time to be placed at a disadvantage, it cannot be expected that representatives of that State, or the people of it, will take all rebuffs kindly, will turn the other cheek, go on paying, and practising the Federal spirit towards those who continue to injure them. Human nature is not built on those lines. We can expect very’ little good to come of Federation if each State is trying to make reprisals on the other, and on every question that comes before us, we ask, “ Is this going to benefit Western Australia,’’ or “Will it benefit Victoria?” I ask honorable senators representing Victoria to consider their position, and to ask themselves whether they are really acting wisely, even in their own interests, in taking up this attitude. I am sure that if they do so, they must see the error of their ways.
– They have not yet had their eyes opened to the benefits of Federation.
– - That is so. Had the manufacturing industries of Melbourne remained in the position in which they were some six or seven years ago, or had they gone from bad to worse, as was very, possible, the position of Victoria to-day would be very different from what it is. If, instead of having these industries working full time, and every one connected with them prosperous, they had to face stagnation of trade, they would be inclined to look upon Federation very differently. Now, in the moment of their prosperity, they say, “We can afford to treat the smaller States as we please. We have the power, we shall use it in our own style, and for our own interests.” I have said that that kind of thing can be taken too far. I hope that it will not be pursued anyfurther. I admit that our case would be considerably weaker had we merely relied upon the goodwill of the people of Australia to build the railway. But we received such clear and definite promises from the leaders of the people of Australia that we entertained no doubt on the point. I think that no one will doubt the honesty of Mr. Kingston’s promise. This is one of the earliest promises he made to Western Australia on the subject -
This would indeed be an Australian work worthy of undertaking by a Federal authority, on behalf of the nation, in pursuance of the authorities contained in the Commonwealth Bill. It is, of course, a work of special interest to Western Australia and South Australia; and I devoutly hope that the day is not far distant when the representatives of West Australia and South Australia may, in their places in a Federal Parliament, be found working side by side for the advancement of Australian interests in this and other matters of national concern.
So far, the representatives of Western Australia have been working in this Parliament for the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole, and other States have gained an advantage from our efforts. The time has now arrived when Western Aus tralia can reasonably expect io get an advantage from the Parliament, and all we ask is that that promise shall be honoured.
– Would Mr. Kingston say that the time had arrived ?
– Seeing that three years prior to the date of this letter he proposed the construction of the railway, I should think that he would.
– But nine years is a very short time in the history of a project of that kind.
– I admit that the period is not very lengthy, but I would remind the honorable senator that, while Premier of South Australia - before Federation was likely to come about - Mr. Kingston proposed that the two States should combine to build the railway. His second proposition was made when he saw that Federation was likely to become an actuality, and that the people of Australia should undertake to carry out a -project which it would be impossible for the two States concerned to do.
– Some day, but not the present day.
– Mr. Kingston was a member of the first Federal Ministry which put this proposal on their platform.
– To be quite sure of the sincerity of South Australia, the Government of Western Australia sent a communication to its Premier, and received from Mr. Kingston the. following reply by wire -
Cannot understand reference to probable reluctance of South Australia to permit Federal construction of railway connecting colonies. We have no fear of any such anti-Federal “ dog in the manger “ policy.
The Government of Western Australia; feared that the Government of South Australia might use their power under the Constitution to block the construction of the railway, and when they conveyed that doubt in an official communication, Mr. Kingston, who naturally resented the imputation, said that he could not understand how there could be any such idea in the mind of any person, and that, certainly, a “ dog in the manger “ policy would not be adopted by South Australia. We have also a communication from Mr., now Sir Frederick, Holder, when “Premier of S’outh Australia. On the 1st February, 1900, he addressed to Sir John Forrest- a letter in which, in unmistakable language, he committed himself to the construction of the railway.
– Not to the construction of the railway, but to bring an enabling measure before the Parliament of South Australia.
– In order to enable honorable senators to see whether I have not put a fair construction upon the letter1, I shall, quote the words of the writer: -
Following our conversation as to the possible’ blocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta by the Federal authority, by South Australia refusing the consent rendered necessary by section xxxiv. of clause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill to the construction of the line going through her territory, I regard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing ; in fact, quite out of the question. To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake as soon as the Federation is established, Western Australia and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth, to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this Province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament.
– And the Parliament of Western Australia did nothing for eighteen months.
– And the Parliament of South Australia has done nothing since that time.
– I do not remember exactly the time ; but I know that when the attention of Mr. Walter James, the Premier, was called to the ‘matter, he brought forward a Bill which was passed through the State Parliament.
– There was nothing done by Western Australia while Mr. Holder was Premier of South Australia.
– I do not think that he held office very long after that letter was written, because, at the first Federal election, he was elected to a seat in the House of Representatives.
– That was twelve months after he wrote the letter.
– At any rate, there was not very much time for anything to be done by Western Australia. But whether there was any delay or not, that does not justify any South Australian politician who gave an explicit promise in saying that, because the Government of Western Australia did not rush a Bill through the State Parliament directly, this survey should not be made. .
– The honorable senator cannot blame Sir Frederick Holder for any delay which occurred after he abandoned State politics.
– I have no wish to blame that gentleman, but I scarcely think that if, instead of Speaker, he were an ordinary member of the other House, his attitude would be different from that which he expressed in his letter of 1st February^ 1900. I have quoted sufficient to show that the gentleman whom I named made a very clear and explicit promise as to what the attitude of South Australia on this question would be as soon as the Commonwealth had set its house in order. It cannot be said that there has been any indecent haste in bringing forward the Bill. A considerable time was allowed to elapse before it was introduced by the Barton Government. It has been brought before the Senate on several occasions, and although the Commonwealth has been in existence for nearly six years, it has not yet been passed. Mr. Deakin, the Prime Minister, was quite as explicit in his promise as were the politicians of South Australia. On his return trip from the old country, whither he went as one of the delegates to see the Constitution Bill put through the Imperial Parliament, he called at Albany, where he was interviewed by some Western Australian Federalists, who hoped to secure his assistance in the cause of Federation. He said he could not visit the rest of the State, as he was anxious to return to Victoria; but the words he used in reference to the railway left, no doubt as to his attitude. He said that Western Australia occupied at least a third of the area of Australia, and that, if it did not join, the Federation would fall far short of what it ought to be. He said that financially it was hopeless to expect that Western Australia could agree to have complete Inter-State free-trade straight away, considering the enormous area of her territory, and the great cost of government, because it would bring about a hopeless state of involvency. He explained that in view of that possibility, the Convention had made certain concessions to Western Australia, which he hoped would be accepted. He added that if any other concession had been asked for by the representatives of Western Australia, it would have been granted. He gave us clearly to understand that had they seriously asked for the construction of the railway to be provided for in the Constitution, their fellow delegates would have been prepared to grant it. In order to satisfy honorable senators that I have not strained Mr. Deakin’s words, I shall quote the report upon which I have relied. He said -
If the delegates from Western Australia had put forward at the Convention any other special terms they would have been granted.
It was to a great extent owing to the confidence which Mr. Deakin infused into the people of Western Australia by this statement that, as soon as the Federation was established, the great work of constructing this railway ought to be one of the first considerations, that they decided to accept the Constitution Bill.
It had been urged as an argument against Federation that the people of the Eastern States wished to exploit Western Australia for their own benefit. There need be no misapprehension on that score. He had had private conversations with the representatives of the various Colonies, and it had been agreed that the affairs of Western Australia would require careful management, and the opinion was expressed that Western Australia, practically severed from the other Colonies, would receive the best attention of the Federal Parliament.
Then he went on -
Western Australia would secure the railway if she joined the Federation.
– So she will.
– Does that bear out the assertion that we have been putting forward bogus claims, and that no promises were made?
– What is the date of that statement?
– It was made when Mr. Deakin was returning from London, where he had been as one of the three delegates sent to represent this country in connexion with the Commonwealth Bill.
– Was he authorized by his State to make that statement?
– I do not say that the Parliament of Victoria passed a resolution giving him authority to say what he did. I have made no such claim. All I claim is that Mr. Deakin, who was a prominent Federal leader, distinctly gave this assurance. I have no fault to find with him. I think that he has honestly kept his word. I may remark that, before I quoted this statement from him in December, 1904, I pointed it out to him, in order to make sure that there was no mistake. He said, “ That is exactly what I said, and what I stand by.” Therefore, there can be no doubt about his attitude.
– He is bound by it.
– And he has redeemed his promise.
– Hehas certainly honestly kept the promise which he made. I find no fault with his attitude. But I quote his words in answer to the argument of Senator Styles - that no promise was made.
– No promise was made on behalf of Victoria. Mr. Deakin was only expressing his own opinion.
– He was expressing his personal opinion that Western Australia would get the railway if she entered the Federation.
– He expressed that opinion as a man occupying a high position in the Federal movement, and that is all that I claim. He went on to say -
The question was one of national policy, and personally he advocated the construction of that railway at the earliest possible moment.
He said further -
For years probably that railway would not pay.
That shows that he made his statement with his eyes open. He did not conceal from himself the fact that the line would not be a payable concern from the start; but he went on -
He believed the State of Western Australia would be connected by rail with the other States, just as the State of British Columbia had been connected with the other States of Canada.
So that honorable senators will see that we have some justification for saying that promises were made to us.
– Yes, by individuals; and they have kept their promises.
– I do not expect that the people of Victoria proclaimed the promise in chorus. Even in the Senate, although we occasionally have duets, we are not allowed to join in a chorus.” Now I should like to read a statement from another prominent Federalist, who took an active part in bringing about Federation in Western Australia. The gentleman to whom I refer did not content himself with sending over telegrams, as he did on the night before the poll, but also wrote a long letter to the leader of the Federal movement in Western Australia. I am referring to Senator Symon. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak in Kalgoorlie, and in that address he stated that, if Western Australia came into the Union, there was nothing more certain than that the gold-fields would be connected with South Australia by rail. He spoke from a very lofty stand-point throughout, but that was the sentiment of his speech.
– He has denied in the Senate that any compact was ever entered into.
– I do not think so. I have quoted sufficient to show that there was an understanding with Mr. Kingston and Sir Frederick Holder.
– But Senator Symon denies it.
– He may have disputed the meaning of the terms, but I do not think that he would deny that there was an understanding. What I am about to read is a letter which Senator Symon sent to Mr. Walter James, the leader of the Federal movement in Western Australia. It is dated Adelaide, 27th June, 1900, and was published in the West Australian of July 9th. It says -
My dear Mr. James, -
I thank you and all our Federal friends for the great compliment you paid me in inviting my co-operation in your Federal campaign for the acceptance of the Commonwealth Bill at your coming referendum. I regret I am unable to definitely accept your invitation. My engagements just at present are so numerous and pressing that I can hardly see my way to arrange for the necessary visit to your Colony. I rejoice that the people of Western Australia are at last to have an opportunity of directly voting upon the question, and joining in the auspicious union which is to make all Australia the great Anglo-Saxon nation under the Southern Cross.
I am sorry that Senator Symon is not now in his place to help to carry out the promise that is referred to in such high-falutin language in this letter -
Personally, I have no misgivings as to the result of the people’s vote. I sincerely believe that the patriotism and national aspirations of the great body of the people of Western Australia will rise superior to petty provincialism, and emphatically declare all Western Australia insists upon taking the grand part which belongs to her, and for which she is so well fitted, in the Australian union.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to confirm what I said a few moments ago bv reading what Senator Symon said as to the compact. In my speech I said -
Therefore South Australia has not broken any arrangement made. If any compact at all was made, Western Australia has broken it.
Senator Symon interjected
There never was a compact.
– I suppose Senator Symon, if he were in his place to-day, would, with his usual lawyer’s ability, raise a point as to what was meant by “ compact.” But I am quite satisfied that while he might dispute that there was a “ compact,” he would not attempt to wriggle out of the responsibility for his own words in his letter to Mr. Walter James. He went on to say -
The national and sentimental aspect - if one may say so, has always been to me the largest and most powerful influence. But at the same time there are immense material advantages to Western Australia in coming into the union now which would be imperilled, if not altogether taken away, should she stand aside or postpone , the auspicious day. Amongst these advantages which I take the liberty of suggesting, you should not overlook the following ; -
Federation must inevitably give to Western Australia at a very early date a transcontinental railway line, upon which your and our hearts are set. That will be one outward and visible link to join Western Australia with the rest of the federating Colonies. In my belief the acceptance of the Commonwealth Bill by Western Australia will mean the speedy inauguration of that work.
I am sorry that Senator Styles has gone out of the Chamber. His action exhibits the customary fairness of certain politicians, who, when they have scored a little point - no matter how miserably small it may be - clear out as quickly as possible to avoid hearing what may be said in answer to them. I make no appeal to Senator Styles, whose mind - or what the honorable senator calls his- mind - is made up for him by the Melbourne Age, and the only hope of his voting for this proposal is another change in the policy of that newspaper. There is no doubt as to Senator Symon’s attitude, as expressed in the letter, in which he proceeded to enumerate other benefits which Western Australia was likely to enjoy under Federation. For instance -
It will also mean the immediate adjustments of all mail arrangements to the satisfaction of the West, and, with the goodwill of the East, the interests of all federating colonies will be identical, because whatever is for the benefit of one integral part of the Union, must be looked upon as for the benefit of all. Friction will be removed, and causes of all antagonism in respect of such matters must largely cease.
Western Australia will have the immediate benefit of the enormous - I use the word advisedly - fiscal concessions made under the Commonwealth Bill. I . have always thought these concessions were under-estimated in your Colony, just as we found, during our referendum campaign here, they were over-estimated, and considered to be far too advantageous to your people. They were, however, agreed to, and we are satisfied that you should have all the advantages they will give you.
The interests of the goldfields, and the goldfields’ population, will be reconciled with the interests of the population of Perth and Fremantle ; the bitterness of possible separation will become a thing of the past, and the source of acrimonious agitation in that direction will be avoided.
That was written when the agitation on the Western Australian gold-fields for separation from the rest of the Colony - an agitation in which Senator Smith took part - was at its head -
There are many other material advantages which time fails me at present to enumerate, but I cannot forbear mentioning these few which be on the surface. I need hardly add that my services are at the disposal of the people of Western Australia, if they desire them in any way in which they can further the great cause, and you are at liberty to make what use you please of this letter.
I think I have quoted sufficient to prove what I set out to prove, namely, that the people of Western Australia had undoubted promises from the leading men of South Australia. Victoria, and other States that a transcontinental railway would follow Federation. The people of Victoria spoke through their then mouth-piece, so far as Federation was concerned, in the person of the present Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin ; and unless it can be shown’ that these promises were fallacious I hope we shall hear no more of the contention that Western Australia has no justification for relying on the inducement then held out. If the Commonwealth Parliament cannot approve of the construction of the transcontinental line, we ought, at all events, to hear a better reason advanced than that no promise was held out to the Western Australian people that if they joined the Union thev would be placed in communication bv land with the rest of the Commonwealth. The only way in which those promises can be honoured is by passing the Bill now under consideration. The survey proposed would undoubtedly prove of great advantage in opening up a wide extent of auriferous country ; and, under such circumstances, the benefits would not be confined to Western Australia, but, like those which followed the discovery of the existing fields in the West, would extend to every State. Bearing in view the enormous areas of auriferous country, it is possible, and probable, that in the future there will be finds equal to those of the past. The proposal of the Western Australian Government to send out a prospecting party with the survey party has met with some hostile criticism. I can promise that if a Government survey party be sent out, mamprospecting parties besides that organizedby the State will accompany it. Within my knowledge there are many men who, if thev had reasonable hope of succour in time of difficulty or stress, would prospect that part of Australia, and therefore it can easily be realized that, if we pass this Bill, there will be spent, not. only the £20,000 voted by this Parliament, but much more, as represented by the expenses of both the State and private prospecting parties. Those parts of Western Australia where there are now flourishing populations were at one time regarded as a wilderness, simply because we knew nothing whatever about them ; and I am satisfied that there are yet great discoveries to be made. If only on the ground that a Bill of this kind would be the means of directly and indirectly providing employment, the expenditure of £20,000 would be fully justified. If we are to prove ourselves more worthy than the blackfellow of the ownership and control of this Continent, we must make better use o’f our possession. That can only be done by exploring the interior and developing the country in a practical, common-sense way. If we confine our attention to the coastal fringe, we shall prove ourselves but little better than the coloured people whom we are gradually displacing ; and that, of course, would not be creditable to us as a white race. Nothing attracts population more than the discovery of new gold-fields, as the history of Australia and other countries proves most conclusively. In my opinion, the discovery of new gold-bearing areas is not only quite possible, but probable, and I appeal to honorable senators to consider the matter most carefully before they vote against the measure before us.
.- The proposal contained in this Bill has engaged the attention of honorable senators and of members of another place for some years. Strange to’ say, while in another place the Bill met with very little serious opposition, considerable hostility has been manifested towards it in this Chamber. When a similar measure was first introduced into the Senate, a number of honor able senators worked themselves into a white heat, and, by their “stone-walling” tactics, “talked out “ the proposal. When the Bill was brought into the Senate a second time, the opponents of the measure, by what they probably considered a tactical move, shelved the matter. Some of those honorable senators, when Senator Dawson to-day said that he not only favoured this Bill, but also favoured the construction of the line, applauded him as one who, at least, was candid. I do not think, however, that it was very candid of honorable senators to introduce an amendment in order to shelve the Bill on the last occasion. It would have been far better to have taken a straight-out vote on the merits of the measure than to seek for a side issue to defeat a proposal which has very strong support in this Chamber, and, so far as one is able to judge, has strong support outside. Personally, I have never heard any very strong objection raised to the proposed survey ; and I am satisfied that there is a keen sense of justice, and a very strong Federal spirit, amongst the people of all the States. The marrow, “ little Australian “ spirit that is manifested at times is not the spirit of the whole of the people, but the spirit of a small, though occasionally noisy, section, which takes its opinions from the daily organs, or the yapping echoes of the daily organs. The members of the party to which I belong have no need to take much notice of what is done by the daily press. The newspapers have no consideration for us as a party, and thev take every opportunity to call attention towhat appears to them to be shortcomings on the part of this Parliament. We find such headings as “Capital Site Picnics,” “Senators’ Privileges,” and “ Desert Railway “ ; but, probably, such headlines only emanate from a desert mind. However, what are the arguments presented against the acceptance of this Bill ? On the former occasion it was contended that there was no guarantee that the South Australian Government would consent to the construction of this line through the territory of that State. But we were not asking for consent for the construction of the line; what we were discussing was a proposed survey.
– And Parliament decided that it would not incur the preliminary expense for the survey unless there was an assurance that the line could be constructed.
– That is very clever; but is it likely that the South Australian Parliament would give an assurance to this Parliament-
– Is it likely that an assurance will be given until it is known exactly what route the line will take, or what the nature of the survey is likely to be? Is it likely that until the South Australian Parliament is made aware of the route that it will - as Sir Frederick Holder said in his communication - introduce a Bill for such a purpose.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45p.m.
– Before the adjournment for dinner, I was saying that the objection raised on a former occasion was not to the survey, or even the construction of the line, but was an objection that the South Australian Parliament had not been approached, and the consent of that State had not been given to the construction of the line. The opponents of the Bill on that occasion succeeded in carrying the following resolution : -
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.
After the carrying of that resolution, which involved the defeat of the Bill, the Prime Minister wrote to the Premier of South Australia, and that gentleman replied as follows : -
Adelaide, 6th June, 1906.
Sir, - In reply to your letter of the 7th inst. respecting the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, I have the honour to refer you to my telegram of 1st March last, and to say that this Government has no objection to the survey as therein notified, but cannot undertake to consider a Bill for submission to Parliament, in the absence of information as to the route and terminal points of the railway.
The passage of this Bill would enable the South Australian Government to obtain the required information. As one who is prepared to vote for this Bill, I desire to make my position absolutely clear. I am not at the present moment favorably disposed towards the construction of the line, and it is because I require more complete information that I favour the passage of this Bill. When that information is obtained I have no doubt that the South Australian Government will very quickly have a Bill passed giving the assent of the people of that State to the construction of the line in terms that will meet the views of honorable senators who carried the resolution to which I have referred. What are the solid grounds of objection to this Bill? Let us understand what the opponents of the measure mean. Do they object to the expenditure of £20,000 to obtain information which I and thousands of other citizens of the Commonwealth desire? If they do I unhesitatingly say that they are animated by a very narrow and anti-Federal spirit. The expenditure proposed is not in the interests of Western Australia, but in the interests of all the States, and it is an expenditure which in my opinion can be justified on any public platform in Australia. Only a few nights ago a vote of £8,000 for a trawler that it is estimated will cost £1,500 a year for upkeep was agreed to after very little discussion.
– I opposed it, and voted against it.
– That is so, but the vote was carried with but very slight opposition, and it was a vote for the purchase of a trawler to. be used in exploring the coastal waters of Australia with a view to discovering where fish are to be caught in payable quantities in order that the information may be handed over to private enterprise for its use.
– Those who swallowed that vote can do the same with this.
– There is not the same excuse for the opposition to this measure. It is said by those opposed to the Bill that if it is passed it will bind i–er« one supporting it to the construction of the line. It will not bind me.
– It will not bind even the honorable senators from Western Australia.
– Some advocates of the measure have been straightforward enough to say that they will be bound to the construction of the line.
– That may be their opinion, and they may have reasons for supporting the construction of the line which I have not. I have no hesitation in supporting the Bill which will involve an expenditure of £20,000 spread over the whole of the States, and which will commit us to nothing further.
– Unless the report of the surveyors justifies it.
– Unless their report justifies it. If we are to free our minds from prejudice we should remember that two or three years ago a desire was expressed in this Parliament for full information on the subject of the proposed railway, and in order that it might be secured highly competent men in the persons of the engineers-in-chief of the various States were appointed to exhaustively consider the question. I consider that their report was a very favorable one indeed.
– They declined to recommend the construction of the line.
– I do not think so. They considered the probable’ cost of construction, the cost of maintenance, receipts and expenditure, and, so far as my memory serves me, they justified the construction of the line at. an expenditure of £4,500,000. Thev estimated that the probable deficiency from the working of the line for the first year would be £68,106, but they stated that after the first vear the loss would be gradually reduced, and that at the close of a decade there would be a profit over and above working expenses of £18,219.
– There was a big assumption in that estimate, namely, that the population of Western Australia would double itself in the ten years.
– It increased six-fold in sixteen years.
– It seems only yesterday when that State was a Crown Colony with only a handful of people.
– Sixteen years ago the population was 45,000.
– And to-day the population is 263,000. If sixteen years ago people had objected to the construction of waterworks in Western Australia because of the scanty population, and some one had urged that in ten years’ time the population would be doubled, that would have been considered a foolish prediction. I find that, in paragraph 8 of their report; dated 27th July, 1903, the Engineers-in-Chief say -
On the assumption that the population of Western Australia will be doubled in ten years from the opening of the line, we think that it would be right to anticipate a doubling of the revenue. An investigation of the statistics of Western Australia indicates how rapid has been the progress in every direction.
Speaking of the movement of population between the eastern and western States, they say -
That this movement will be encouraged by the additional facilities of railway communication cannot be doubted, and the bringing of the eastern goldfields of Western Australia and Adelaide into nearer connexion must result in an increasing passenger traffic. Reference to the monthly Statistical Abstract of January, I()03 published in Western Australia, will show that during the period from 1894 to 1902, the population increased approximately two and a half times. The general revenue increased five times, the railway revenue eleven times, post and telegraph receipts five times, savings bank deposits three and a half times, tonnage of shipping two and a half times, value of imports four and a third times, value of exports seven times. The export of gold increased nine times in seven years, and was 1,871,083 fine ounces in 1902.
– The line will tap the Tarcoola gold belt in South Australia.
– It may or may not.
– It is because we really do not know what the future developments along the route of the proposed railway are likely to be that we desire the information which can be secured by the survey. The argument is used that because this will be a non-payable line it should not be constructed. I say fearlessly that if that reasoning had been adopted in connexion with every line constructed throughout Australia, there “would have been little or no development in any part of the Continent. Looking at the matter from the people’s and the collectivists’ point of view, I say that these national undertakings should not be judged as money-making concerns. When people ask what are our assets we refer them to our railways. It may be said that some of them are non-payable concerns, and, therefore, are not assets. But roads and bridges are non-productive public works, unpayable assets, and yet no one would say that the maintenance and construction of roads and bridges should be handed over to private enterprise, and should not be undertaken at all, because they yield no direct return. If it were shown that the proposed line would be a payable concern there would still be some objection raised against its construction, and even against the survey asked for by this Bill. Opponents of the measure say that the country through which the proposed line will go is a waterless waste and desert, in which a blackfellow cannot exist. But it is forgotten that worse things were said about the mallee country, which covers onefourth of the area of Victoria, only a little more than twenty years ago. Honorable senators have emphasized a number of quotations which they have made from reports, and have used them as reasons why this survey should not be made. At one time - and it is not very long ago - the only inhabitants of the Mallee country were wild dogs and rabbits, for there was stunted vegetation, and very little herbage. A Land Commission appointed ip! 1878 reported in the following terms on the Mallee country : -
The mallee country occupies the north-west corner of Victoria. Its base reaches for 180 miles along the Murray River, 150 miles down the South Australian border, and 150 miles north-east to the commencing point at Swan Hill. The area is about twelve millions of acres. “Upon this grows the mallee, a dwarf gum tree, interspersed with Murray pine, stunted saltbush, wild hop, porcupine grass, broom, and hop. It is mainly a rainless and waterless region. In some places the mallee trees grow as close together as a hedge ; in other places more open, there grow various kinds of salt bushes, dwarf cotton bush, hop and spinifex. Travelling through the centre of the mallee, the region is a wilderness in the strict sense of the term, not a living creature except the rabbits to be seen, and not a solitary bird.
Surveying the mallee country as a whole, it may be properly described as a vast wilderness, dotted throughout with small specks of , what appears to be good land set in a framework of undoubtedly good soil. Population may gradually encroach upon if from its northern or river side, likewise from its south and south-eastern border. Above all, an extensive artificial water supply must be provided ‘before the mallee can become the seat of even a sparsely settled community. The exterior border of the mallee scrub, as already pointed out, on the southeastern and eastern side, and also on the river frontage, possesses a soil suited to cultivation; and selection, with a view to agriculture, should be allowed to go on there as in other parts of the country. But the interior must be devoted to pastoral occupation.
That is a much more unfavorable report than any report which has been submitted in regard to the country through which the proposed railway is intended to go; and to-day, after a period of less than twentyfive years,, the Mallee country, instead of being inhabited by dingoes and rabbits, is occupied by thousands of persons permanently and well settled, and is a valuable asset. In addition to that, it has provided employment for thousands of persons. I do not say that the country in
Western Australia or that part of South Australia through which the proposed railway would probably go, would turn out as profitable, because time alone would determine that. I believe that, if the people of the Commonwealth were polled tomorrow the great bulk of them would unhesitatingly vote for this Bill.
– A majority of the senators for Victoria are against the Bill, consequently they do not know the feeling of their own State.
– When I was seeking the votes of the electors of Victoria less than three years ago, I was asked at several places whether I was in favour of the construction of the transcontinental railway. It would have been very convenient for me to say, “I am opposed to it” because the newspapers were against it. But at all times’ I said to my auditors, “ I am not sufficiently acquainted with the nature of the country which the proposed railwayis to traverse, or supplied with information as to the probable cost of construction and estimated receipts and expenditure to be able to answer the question. I would favour the appointment of a Commonwealth Commission, composed of experts, and on the presentation of their report, I would then be in a position to express an open opinion, and give a conscientious and fair vote.” Because I wanted fuller information, I told the people that I would not commit myself to declaring whether I was favorable or unfavorable to the project. 1 have no hesitation in saying that the people of Victoria are not seriously concerned about the expenditure which is proposed in connexion with the Bill. What would be the cost to Victoria?’ It would be a very small sum indeed. We have at the head of the Government a gentleman who, on behalf of Victoria, did promise the people of Western Australia that the line would be constructed and representative gentlemen from other States did likewise. Because they occupy high and responsible positions, it may be said in a measure that they spoke on behalf of the people of their States.
– Mr. Deakin said that personally be believed in the construction of the line. He was very careful to safeguard his State in that way.
– I have been trying to point out that the people of Victoria have so much confidence in Mr. Deakin that they elected him to a seat in the House of Representatives, where he is the head of a Government. His word would be taken more seriously, and he would consider every word that he addressed to the people of Western Australia, not so much from his point of view, as from the standpoint of committing the people of Victoria. It ought not to be overlooked that every Government which has occupied the Treasury Bench in another place has advocated a survey of the line.
– For reasons which are very apparent.
– I should like to know what the apparent reasons are?
– That is what we want to know.
– Is the fact that there is a representative of Western Australia in the Government an apparent reason ?
– And a few Western Australian votes outside the Government.
– One would really think that Western Australia was not a State of the Commonwealth. What direct advantage could the construction of the railway be to that State as against every other State? The population of Western Australia is composed mainly of what are called “ ‘tother-siders.” It is not the real Western Australian who is the most “out-and-out” advocate of this project, but the men and women who have come from other States.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– I know it too well.
– The honorable senator might as well say that the men in the moon are in favour of the project.
– No one regretted more than I did to-day that Senator Styles should try to belittle Western Australia, because at a period in the history of Victoria, quite apart from the financial crisis which overtook us, there was very great depression, and every avenue of employment was closed-
– Admitting it all, what has that to do with the question?
– I was endeavouring to show that from Victoria many thousands of persons who were in idleness made their way to Western Australia, obtained work there, and were able to send money to their wives and relatives here. I do not desire to labour this question. I have made ‘up my mind that I can conscientiously vote for the Bill, feeling that it is a righteous thing to do, that the money will not be grudged by” the different States, and that if a favorable report be submitted to the Parliament, the construction of the line will be determined upon at no distant date. We must not look at the proposal merely from a sordid point of view. If we were to look at every undertaking from that stand-point, the nation would make very little progress. I take a higher view than that. It is because I believe that the main argument against the Bill - that the consent of South Australia has not been obtained - is a mere subterfuge, that I want to see a division taken on the Bill on its merits.
– The honorable senator might as well say that the Constitution is a subterfuge when it does not suit him.
– What has the Constitution to do with the Bill?
– Only that it says that the consent of a State shall be necessary.
– To make a railway, but not a survey.
– If Senator Dobson were Premier of Tasmania, and its com sent were desired, as thatof South Australia is desired, would he be so foolish as to commit the State until he knew exactly, what the survey was likely to prove?
– Then we shall be foolish enough to vote £20,000 without knowing whether South Australia is going to consent or not.
– The mind of the people of South Australia to-day is no different from what it was when Sir Frederick Holder committed the State when his opinion was sought in regard to the project.
– How does the honorable senator know that ?
– Because I have a letter here.
– Oh ! one letter.
– How many letters does the honorable senator want?
– I want a referendum.
– I believe that if a referendum of the people were taken, the honorable senator would find that they were of a different turn of mind from himself in regard to the Bill.
– Then the honorable senator can admire our moral courage in opposing the Bill.
– I do not know about the moral courage. Sir Frederick Holder’s letter has been read before; but I propose to. read it again.
– Will the honorable senator try to square that letter with his statement that the mind of South Australia is the same to-day as it was when it was written ?
– I shall endeavour to do that, because at the head of affairs in South Australia there is a fair-min3ed man in the person of Mr. Thomas Price, a Labour man. Sir Frederick Holder wrote to the Premier of Western Australia as follows : -
To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake, as soon as the Federation is established, Western Australia and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth, to introduce- a Bill formally giving the assent of this Province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament.
– Did he do that?
– How could he do it? Anyhow, Sir Frederick Holder, at the time I have stated, did give a promise to the people of Western Australia, and to the Parliament of that State, that such a Bill would be introduced by him and carried through. I do not desire to say anything further. Whether the numbers are up or not, my mind is made up. There is no doubt, in my opinion, that those who vote in favour of the Bill will be acting not only in the interests of Western Australia, but of the Commonwealth, and for the advancement of its citizens.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I now desire to move, under standing order 188 -
That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
The standing order under which I take this action provides that -
After the second reading, unless it be moved “ That this Bill be referred to a Select Committee,” or unless notice of an instruction has been given, the Senate shall forthwith resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole for the consideration of the Bill.
That indicates the opportunity on which a motion that a Bill be referred to a Select Committee shall be submitted. We have listened during the major portion of today, and during the major portion of several days previously, to many speeches in support of the contention that the proposed railway should be constructed. It seems to me to be necessary that some inquiry should be made as to whether those statements have substance in them or not. Personally, I think that many of them are lacking in any foundation. It seems to me, therefore, to be desirable that we should have a preliminary inquiry to ascertain whether the expenditure which the survey would render necessary should be authorized. Another reason why further inquiry should be decided upon is that, by a very narrow majority, the Senate has agreed to the second reading of the Bill.
– Last year there was a narrow majority in the other direction.
– Between then and now the supporters of the Bill have converted an equality of votes into a majority. I need not ask how that majority has been arrived at. It consists of the solitary vote of a Minister who hitherto has led the Senate to believe that he was an opponent of the Bill. I think I am speaking correctly, judging from the only action by which I believe the Minister has disclosed the bent of his mind with regard to the Bill, which was, by wav of interjection-
– This is a Ministerial Bill.
- Senator de Largie is welcome to anv comfort which he can derive from the contention that if this is a Ministerial Bill, therefore a Minister who does not believe in it is bound to support it. I should prefer to believe that Senator Keating has been swayed by the powerful arguments to which he has not listened to-day ; because otherwise it seems to me impossible to conceive that a Minister, without any explanation to the Senate of a change of attitude, should suddenly be found departing from the ranks of the opponents of the measure,and joining the ranks of its supporters. The smallness of the majority, and the fact that that majority has been brought about by the remarkably sudden conversion of a Minister, does seem to me to afford a reason for asking the Senate to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the whole matter before we commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £20,000. It will be said that £20,000 is a trivial amount. I admit at once that, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the expenditure of such a sum is not of very great moment. But there is something else involved, and that is the question whether what is proposed to be undertaken is a Federal obligation at all. Honorable senators who have supported the Bill have all along acted on the assumption that there is a Federal aspect to the question, and that all we had to do was to” affirm whether we were justified in making the railway. All these are matters which the Committee will be able to investigate with deliberation and with a consumption of time that it is not possible for the Senate to devote to it. If my motion is carried; it will be incumbent upon me either to ask that the Committee be appointed by ballot, or to nominate the Committee bv a subsequent motion.
– Standing order 278 says -
The senators to serve on a Select Committee shall be nominated by the mover. But if one senator so demand it shall be selected by ballot.
Therefore I think that the honorable senator, in moving for the appointment of a Select Committee, ought to nominate the members of it. When that is done, any honorable senator can demand that the Committee be selected by ballot.
– I accept your suggestion, sir, and ask leave to amend the motion so that it shall read as follows: -
That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee consisting of Senators Best, Givens, Lt.-Col. Gould, Guthrie, O’Keefe, Pearce, Staniforth Smith, and the mover.
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I beg to second the motion.
– Do honorable senators wish to have the Select Committee chosen by ballot?
– I should like to ask whether the honorable senator has obtained the consent of those whom he has nominated ?
– Can a senator who has been nominated refuse to serve on the Committee ?
– I do not think so. He can ask the leave of the Senate to be excused, but it is the duty of a senator to serve on a Select Committee when selected.
– Then I ask the Senate to omit my name.
– The object of this motion is as plain as a pikestaff. It is to shelve the Bill. I ask those honorable senators who voted for the second reading to stick to their guns. If they do, there is no doubt as to the fate of the motion. I am not going to argue the question now. We have had a full debate, and honorable senators ought to be in a position to make up their minds. This proposal for a Select Committee is for the purpose of shelving the Bill, and for no other purpose. There is no necessity for the motion, and Senator Millen is well aware of that fact. There would be no possibility of a Select Committee bringing up a report.
– I know what the Minister has been doing this afternoon. I know what has been going on.
– I have been doing nothing.
– I know what has been done.
– Honorable senators who voted for the Bill can. be cross-examined if necessary, and will be able to say whether any influence has been brought to bear upon them. If Senator Mi.!’ en knows all about the matter, what need is there for a Select Committee? As I have said, the motion is only a subterfuge for the purpose of shelving the Bill, and I ask those honorable senators who supported the second reading to vote against the motion.
– I distinctly recollect that when the Bill was before us on a previous occasion its advocates welcomed the suggestion to appoint a Select Committee.
– Nothing of the kind !
– The motion for a Select Committee was moved by Senator Neild, who is an opponent of the Bill.
– At that time Senator Neild was not an opponent of the Bill.
– Senator Neild was never anything but an opponent of the Bill.
- Senator Neild’ was in favour of referring the Bill to a Select Committee, and I know of my own knowledge that that idea was favorably entertained by many honorable senators from Western Australia.
– The honorable senator’s statement is entirely erroneous.
– As a- matter of fact, my vote in favour of that course was solicited by1 an honorable senator from Western Australia. It is curious to find honorable senators, who formerly favoured a Select Committee, describing’ the proposal to appoint a similar body this year as a subterfuge in order to shelve the Bill. Why was a similar proposal last year not described as a subterfuge?
– That point was never discussed last vear.
– The Bill was fully discussed.
– The proposal for a Select Committee was never discussed.
– I ask Senator Givens to let us get on with the business.
– I have sat silent all day, listening patiently to other people, and I object to being called to order by a Minister when I venture to make a few remarks at the close of a long debate.
– I do not call the honorable senator to order, but merely suggest that the question has been sufficiently debated.
– What right has the Minister to suggest that a question has been sufficiently debated? I am not pulling in the same boat as the Minister on this occasion, and yet he suggests that I should be foolish enough to allow him to get the nose of his boat in front. I intend to say why, in my opinion, this Bill should be referred to a Select Committee. Throughout the debate to-day the opponents of the Bill have been taunted with the alleged fact that they are opposed to all inquiry. Who is opposed to inquiry now ?
– The survey would be an inquiry.
– I wish a Select Committee to be appointed to inquire, and report as to whether we are justified in passing the Bill.
– What time would a Select Committee have in which to report?
– So far as I can see, a Select Committee would have a considerable time in which to report. If we are to give due consideration to all the business on the notice-paper this session, it is not likely to end until Parliament expires by effluxion of time.
– Time was not of importance this afternoon, when the supporters of the Bill were talking against time.
– I do not fall in with the suggestion made by Senator Millen, because those in favour of the Bill were only doing their duty in speaking at full length, and, in any case, I think that in the time they occupied they were exceedingly reasonable. That, however, is no reason why I should be deprived of my right to address the Committee on the same subject. Many honorable senators, including myself, hold that it would be unconstitutional to pass this Bill at the present stage, seeing that we have no power to follow it up by any effective action. According to the Constitution, our power is limited to building a railway with the consent of the State or States through which that railway may pass.
– We are not talk- . ing about building a railway, but only about making a survey.
– A survey is part and parcel of the building of a railway, just in the same way as the plans and specifications for this Parliament House were part of the construction of the building, and were included in the cost. One of the chief duties of a Select Committee would be to tell us whether we should be justified in undertaking the survey. If, as those who favour- the Bill tell us, it is not intended to at once follow up this survey by constructing the line, that in itself is the strongest argument possible against the Bill, because it pre-supposes a mere waste of money. This is not a Bill for exploration or for any other than the one purpose, namely, a survey for a railway. If it is not proposed to follow up the survey by the construction of the line at the present time, the Senate is not justified in proceeding further until we have a report from a Select Committee that there is a reasonable prospect of the line being built. That is an argument which should have some weight with honorable senators who - desire to safeguard the taxpayers’ money. The Select Committee could also give us very useful information as to whether we should be justified in spending money on this project at the present time. According to the Constitution, we could not build the line now, because we have not the consent of South Australia. It is a common occurrence for mining investors to secure an option to purchase a mine for, it may be, £150,000 or £500,000, the option to extend over six months or- twelve months, during which time the intending purchaser has power to expend money in prospecting and exploring in order to see whether the enterprise is a desirable one. Would any investor be so foolish as to expend any money in exploring a mine unless he had the option of purchase? I contend that, in relation to this railway, we are in an exactly similar position. It is proposed that we should spend money in making a survey to see whether we would be justified in building a line ; and yet after the survey had been made we would not have the right to build one inch of railway, except, of course, in Western Australia.
– We have had a plain intimation that if the survey does not suit South Australia, that State will not consent to the construction of the line.
– A Select Committee could not furnish us with any information on that point.
– I have no hesitation in saying that the Minister of Defence would not pledge himself now that South Australia would give her consent. Another exceedingly important point into which a Select Committee could inquire is as to whether a line of this kind should be built only for the distance named in the Bill, or whether it should be extended further in order to make it a payable enterprise. My opinion is that if the line stops at Kalgoorlie it will never pay. The proposed line would run through 1,100 miles of country which is at present uninhabited. During the greater portion of its course the line would not be more than 100 miles from the coast. In very few instances would the distance from the coast be 150 miles, and in some places the distance would be no more than 40 miles. There is no other stretch of coast of this extent in Australia which has not been fully explored and almost fully occupied ; and when we consider that this is in a part of Australia where there should be a most temperate and genial climate, the fact that the land is unexplored and uninhabited is sufficient evidence that it is of very little use. And the fact that the country is uninhabited makes it almost impossible to expect the line to pay. There is in existence a line of railway right round from Rockhampton to Adelaide, and that line does not pay as a whole, although it serves the four chief cities of the Commonwealth, and along the whole route there are rising and prosperous towns. That line traverses some of the best country, and yet, taken as a whole, it does not pay; and that being so, is it reasonable to expect the proposed line to the West to be remunerative ? These are all matters on which a Select Committee might be able to furnish very valuable information. Another consideration is that sea carriage for goods and passengers is always cheaper than land carriage over any considerable distance. On the line from Rockhampton to Adelaide there are very few through passengers, excepting wealthy men and others whose time is exceedingly valuable, and the line has to rely on the traffic of the intermediate stations. Of course, there could be no such intermediate traffic on the proposed line; and, even if we got the whole of the trade of the Western Australian gold-fields, we must not forget that the Western Australian Government could take a particular course of action which would deprive us of that trade. This, again, would be an important matter for inquiry bv a Select Committee. For a long time on the gold-fields there was a strong agitation - so strong that it led to threatened separation from Western Australia - in favour of a line from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay.
– A survey was made, and Sir John Forrest introduced a Bill to take the line to Norseman.
– That was not the cause of the separation movement at all.
– We know that the reason for the dissatisfaction that existed on the gold-fields of Western Australia was that the people there considered that thev were unjustly dealt with in having to go round bv Perth to get their supplies when they might have been brought by a shorter route. I venture to say that there is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction on those gold-fields on that account to-day. I point out that if we did what supporters of the measure desire, and the Commonwealth built the so-called transcontinental railway, there would be nothing to prevent Western Australia building a line from Esperance Bay to Kalgoorlie which would deprive the Commonwealth line of every particle of traffic with the exception of the mails. Some honorable senators appear to be disposed to dispute that statement, and if thev are, why should we not have a Select Committee to decide the question ?
– We will not help the honorable senator in his win, tie, or wrangle. Can he not give in when he is fairly licked?
– Take your licking like a man !
– I do not know that -e Are beaten or “ licked,” as the Minister so elegantly puts it.
– The majority in favour of the Bill is not much to be proud of.
– No, it is not; and I remind honorable senators that a Bill does not become an Act until it has at least passed its third reading. It will be time, enough for the Minister of Defence to shout when he is out of the wood.
– If we are beaten at any time by one vote, we shall not make a howl about it.
– I consider it a reflection on the President to suggest that I have been making- such an unseemly noise that the Minister is entitled to describe it as a “ howl.” I have been exceedingly moderate and temperate in my remarks.
– I did not say that the honorable senator was howling, but that we should not howl if we were beaten.
– I hold the view that if the Commonwealth is to control the proposed line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie we must also control any line from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay. That is a view which is held also by many people in Western Australia, and honorable senators from that State will not deny that it has been freely referred to in the press there, and has met with strong support. Many people in Western Australia will never be satisfied with a transcontinental, or other railway, unless it provides the shortest means of communication between Kalgoorlie and Esperance Bay. The large and important gold fields of Western Australia, which have practically built up the whole of the prosperity of the State, are entitled to the most expeditious and economical means of communication with the outside world. They should be provided with the cheapest means of getting the supplies they require, and of taking away the gold they have to export beyond sea. It is undeniable that a line from Esperance Bay to Kalgoorlie will immensely cheapen the cost of living in the latter place, because it would reduce the distance over which the gold-fields supplies have to be carried at the present time by about onehalf. It should not be forgotten that such a line would shorten the distance between the Western Australian gold-fields and the eastern States by at least two days’ steam. These are questions which should be carefully considered before the Senate agrees to a proposal which will involve the subsequent expenditure of £5,000,000 on the construction of a railway. I hold - and I believe that if the Bill is referred to a Select Committee, my view will be confirmed - that a railway from Esperance Bay to Kalgoorlie would best serve the interests of the large population of the gold-fields of Western Australia since it would shorten the distance over which their supplies must be carried by rail by at least 120 miles, and the journey to the eastern States by two clays’ steam. The Select Committee might be able to give information as to whether it would not be desirable for the Commonwealth in undertaking the construction of the proposed line, to secure the right to control any lines from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay, in view of the fact that such a line, if constructed by the State, would rob the transcontinental railway of all traffic. It is a matter of the greatest importance that the best line for defence purposes should be constructed. A Select Committee could investigate that aspect of the question in a way which the Senate cannot. The committee could examine military experts, and get their opinion as to the best line for defence purposes. Its advantage in the matter of defence is one of the strongest arguments put forward in favour of the proposed line. I do not think that it can be called a transcontinental line in any sense, because it would not go across the Continent, but would merely be a coast line between two States. On that account, in my view it would not be desirable to build such a line for defence purposes. That must be patent to any one who gives the matter a moment’s consideration. The object of a line for defence purposes is to carry troops, supplies, and arms with expedition from one place to another, and in order that these purposes may be accomplished the line must be secure from interruption by a hostile force. The proposed line would go through a coastal district in some places less than 40 miles from the coast, and it would be 1,100 miles long. It would also traverse an uninhabited country, and it is clear that communication bv it might be interrupted at many points along its course. Should hostilities break out between Great Britain, or the Commonwealth and some foreign power, and a raid be made on Western Australia, as has been suggested, what would there be to prevent the enemy diverting a portion of their force to the Great Australian Bight, and effecting a landing at a point where the railway was not more than 40 miles from the coast. They could then tear up the Une, or blow up a few bridges, a,nd in a few hours the whole purpose of the line from the defence point of view would be defeated. If we are to build a transcontinental railway for defence purposes it should be constructed where it will be free from all clanger of interruption. A line that would be free from interruption should go directly across the Continent, say, from Broken Hill to Kalgoorlie, and such a line could be continued on the other side via Wilcannia to Sydney. That would be a transcontinental line with which it would be impossible for an enemy to interfere. _ I do not put forward my views on the subject as final and conclusive. I merely suggest them as reasons why I favour the reference of the Bill to a Select Committee, which will be able to inquire into the matter more fully than the Senate can possibly do. Such a Committee could examine officers of the Defence Department, including the Minister of Defence, in a few days, and the expert? testimony so obtained would remove all doubts which might exist on the matter. I do not intend to labour the question. I have advanced reasons for the reference of the Bill to a Select Committee, which. I think, are worthy of the consideration of the Senate. I am content now to leave the Senate to decide the question, and I hope that the decision! will be one which will be most conducive to die interests of the Commonwealth “ as a whole.
– - This is a question which might not only with great profit, be referred to a Select Committee, but which, when we consider the unique circumstances of the case, ought to be referred to such a committee. I should just like to ask honorable senators to consider for a moment what we propose to do after we pass this Bill and make the survey. We propose to enter into the business of railway building. When I look at the Constitution I find that we have not the power either to build new railways or to extend existing railways in any State without the consent of the people of that State. So far as I have been able to learn, the consent of Western Australia or of South Australia to the proposed survey of the line or to the building of the railway as a consequence of the survey has not been obtained. This is a matter in which the aid of a Select Committee might very well be invoked. How is it that we are being asked to ride rough-shod over the Constitution. We have our powers in this direction laid down in paragraph xxxiv. of section 51.
Railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State.
We have not obtained the consent of either of the States concerned’.
– Because we do not propose to construct the railway.
– What is the survey wanted for, if it is not to be followed by the construction of the railway? The honorable senator is not helping ,his case by saying that we do not mean to construct the railway. If we do not mean to take that step, why is it proposed to expend £20,000 on a survey?
– I did not say that.
– No community wastes money in that extravagant fashion. I am quite sure that, if a survey were made, it would be immediately followed by a demand for the construction of the railway. Otherwise, the whole thing would be meaningless and without object. Before entering upon the business of railway building at all, even with the consent of the States involved, we ought to have the most complete information regarding the subject which it is possible to obtain. Not only is it proposed to do something which is at least an invasion of the Constitution, but it is also proposed to make a survey for the construction of a railway to a portion of Australia of which, I’ suppose, less is known than of any other part of the Continent. That fact of itself - and I believe that it is undeniable - ought to he sufficient to bring home to the minds of honorable senators the necessity for the appointment of a Select Committee. What does an ordinary State do when it proposes to build a railway ? Usually every acre of the country through which the railway is to pass is well known to the Government. All possible information with regard to the project has been obtained, noted down, and placed in the State archives. But here we are asked to embark in an undertaking which would land us in an expenditure of £5,000,000, without the slightest scintilla ‘of information with regard to the character of the country to be traversed. Surely, to take that step, with so little information, and with such a light heart, is the height of folly. I do not know whether the Government is in earnest in the matter, or whether this is merely a bunch of carrots to the Western Australian member of the Cabinet, or to representatives of Western Australia in the two Houses. But I know that the leader of the Senate told us, in so many words, that, while he was in favour of a survey being made, he was not at all sure about the construction of the line. I think that, before spending £20,000 of public money, we ought to find out the attitude of the Governments of Western Australia and South Australia - whether they will permit us to enter upon their territories for the purpose of surveying, and, after the survey is completed, whether they will be willing, and, if so, on what terms, to permit the construction of the railway. Surely we desire some information with regard to the country to be traversed. All these matters, and a great many more to which I might refer, would come within the purview of a Select Committee. I know that in some of the States it has been customary to refer a railway proposal to a Select Committee, with not one tithe of the reason which exists in this case. As this is a new departure, the Senate ought to exhaust every means of obtaining information with regard to the project before passing the Bill. We ought tr> have some information as to the probable cost of the survey. I heard an honorable senator - an engineer who has had a very long experience in the building of railways - give it as his deliberate opinion that the survey of this line would cost, not £20,000, but probably £50,000. If there is a likelihood of the estimate being doubled, then surely the Senate, before passing the Bill, ought by every means in its power try to find out whether a vote of £20,000 is likely to be sufficient for the purpose. Then we want to know something of the nature of the country to be traversed. I understand that the line is to run within 40 or 100 miles of the coast. I am also told that along the route of 1,100 miles there is no settlement. Surely that is an aspect of the question which ought to have the closest examination before anything definite is done. I question whether, either south or north, there is another portion of the Australian seaboard of such an extent which is wholly uninhabited and unsettled. That ought/ to bring the Senate face to face with the question of whether this huge stretch of country, with only sand blowing over it, as far as I can discover, is possible of settlement and habitation. If it is not, surely it would be the wildest thing imaginable to build a railway there. We ought to have every available information on that particular point. I suppose that the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia know something of the character of the country to be traversed. Probably it has been crossed by explorers, who have mapped it out in a perfunctory kind of fashion. In that case, no doubt, in the pigeon-holes of those Governments will be found authentic records of the explorations. The Senate owes it, not only to itself, but to the Commonwealth, to obtain that information before anything more in this connexion is done. This is peculiarly a State question. I am informed that the Bill’ was passed in another place almost without comment. I offer no remark on that fact. The Senate is charged with the duty of guarding the interests of the States, and I am confronted with the fact that Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria have each of them, at their own expense, carried their railway system to the border of the neighbouring’ State. That is a fact which no member of the States House can afford to overlook. In Queensland, too, we have incurred a heavy debt per ‘head.
– The object of the motion is only to secure an inquiry into the merits of the proposed railway, and it does not seem to me that the remarks of the honorable senator are relevant.
– I submit to you, sir, that the motion conveys with it the duty of inquiring into all the circumstances in connexion with this railway, and its relation to similar railways in other States. Practically, we are asked by the Government of Western Australia to extend its railway to the South Australian border, and by the Government of South Australia to extend its railway to the Western Australian border.
– I do not think that the Government of South Australia has ever asked that ; but still I would point out to the honorable senator that we ought not to have the second-reading debate over again.
– If we are to do our duty as members of the Senate, we ought to have before us all the information that it is possible to obtain in connexion with every aspect of this question. Each, of the other States has, I repeat, constructed its railway to the borders of the neighbouring States. If there are specialcircumstances why Western Australia and South Australia should not construct this line, following what has hitherto been the custom! throughout the Commonwealth, then it would be the duty of the proposed Select Committee to inquire, and report to the Senate what those circumstances are, if they are found to exist. That, sir, is the reason why I put forward this line of argument. Again, we want to find out as nearly as is possible how much the proposed railway would be likely to cost.
– The survey will tell us that.
– The representative of the Government in the Senate seems to have come to the conclusion that he has only to deal with a set of children-. He forgets that we are here in a representative and responsible capacity. What would my, constituents say to me if I went to them, and said that I voted for this Bill because it was merely a survey Bill, and that nothing more would take place? They would come to the conclusion that I was a ridiculous ass to imagine that a survey did not mean something more. The attempt to confine the discussion merely to a survey is a lamentable confession of weakness. If the supporters of the Bill had any confidence in their own cause they would say, “ We want the railway, and are sure that when it is built the present opponents will be converted into supporters.” But instead of that they come forward in a fashion which is mot even apologetic, but which, if it were not unparliamentary, I should characterize as dishonest, and urge us to vote for the survey because it commits us to nothing further. A Select Committee might assist the Senate to find out, not only what the railway itself is likely to cost, but what the survey will cost. An honorable senator, who speaks from experience as an engineer, tells us that it is more likely to cost £50,000 than £20.000. Then, again, a Select Committee might assist us to find out how the money to build the railway is to be found, and what the probable traffic will be.
– All that has been inquired into, and there are reports upon it.
– An honorable senator speaking to-night ridiculed the catch-penny people who are always asking whether such and such a project will pay. His large and generous mind overleaps all such petty obstacles. He does not care whether the Government enters upon an obligation which it cannot discharge, or burdens the States with’ debts which they cannot repay. The State from which I come is already weighed down with heavyobligations which it has not asked any other State to help it to carry. My honorable friend, Senator Findley, seems to be surprised that I should take the trouble to scrutinize proposals to spend a few thousands here and there.
– The honorable senator was not much troubled about the trawler last week.
– There is an old Scotch saying, “ Let every herring hang by its own tail.” I am responsible for my vote on previous occasions as on this. I want to get all the information I possibly can. The first essential .with regard to a projected railway is to ascertain whether it will pay. If it is to pay it must be able to develop good country. We want information with regard to the proposed route and the probable traffic._ What traffic is likely to come to a straight railway constructed across an uninhabited portion of Australia? What people will be likely to want to travel over 2,000 miles of railway through a desert?
– The honorable senator has stretched it a bit. The railway will only cover something over 1,000 miles.
– I am including the whole line between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta.
– The Port Augusta portion is not desert.
– Is is not much better. The population, even in the more settled parts of South Australia, is exceedingly sparse. Is it likely that the people of Western Australia will patronize the railway? Will the people of Perth prefer fo travel by it rather than, to come over to the eastern States by sea? Will the people of Kalgoorlie use it? I venture to say that even if the line to Esperance Bay is not constructed it will be cheaper for them to, get their goods by steamer to Fremantle, and by rail from that port, than to have them carried by this so-called transcontinental railway.
– It is cheaper to convey goods and passengers by sea between New South Wales and Queensland, for instance.
– The honorable senator is stating an indisputable fact. I should say that nine-tenths of the goods from Brisbane to Sydney are conveyed by steamer, and that considerably over 50 per cent, of the passengers between the two States travel by water.
– All the traffic north of Rockhampton goes bv sea.
– That is so. Only very rich people travel by rail over those long distances.
– Or members of Parliament.
– Or members of Parliament, who travel at the public expense. I may say that when I travel from Rockhampton to Melbourne, I generally break the journey once or twice ; whereas, if I had to travel over the proposed line to the West, the last place at which I could break the journey would be Adelaide, unless I camped for a few days at one of the small stations on the way, In addition to the discomfort of travelling such a huge distance by rail, there is the question of expense.
– Does the honorable senator not think that he is now discussing the whole question and not the proposal to appoint a Select Committee. I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator, but it seems to me that he is reiterating arguments used by other honorable senators in discussing the whole question.
– I submit that it is one of the functions of a Select Committee, when appointed to inquire into a proposal to build a railway, to find out whether the railway will probably pay.
– It appears to me that the honorable senator is turning himself into a Select Committee.
– I am trying to point out details with regard to the probable traffic to which I thought it would be right and proper for a Select Committee to direct its attention. One of the strongest reasons for this railway is a defence reason ; and, as suggested by Senator Givens, a Select Committee could examine military experts, and ascertain, for instance, whether it might not be necessary to have a double line. I do not know much about defence matters, but it appears to me that if the railway is to be of any use in the way of defending the Commonwealth from invasion, there should be a double line, and its proximity to the coast at many places would become an important matter. Any power which invaded, or intended to invade Australia, would make itself thoroughly acquainted with every point at which it was possible to land a force, and also with all the facts relating to our system of railways. If this railwaywere built within 40 miles of the coast we might wake up some morning-
– The honorable senator has repeated that argument three or four times already
– I do not remember having done so. In any case, we might find that an enemy had seized our transcontinental railway exactly in the middle, and was using it for the transfer of invading troops to Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney ; so that our last condition might be worse than our first. These are all matters into which a Select Committee might very well inquire. I know that the honorable senators who voted for the second reading of the Bill are of opinion that this motion is in the nature of obstruction.
– So it is.
– It is nothing of the kind. I am opposed to the survey in itself, because there is no evidence before us that it is necessary, and, even if it were necessary, there is no evidence that it is desirable. So far as the available information enables me to form an opinion, I am opposed to the building of such a railway, and before I permit such a measure to pass, I feel it to be my duty to the State I represent, to have all the . information possible. We must not forget that the Commonwealth is asked, not only to construct this particular line, but also as a condition of taking over the Northern Territory, to construct another railway right through to Port Darwin. I believe that one such undertaking would be too much for the Commonwealth, and two would be such an incubus that we should be glad to be rid of the responsibility. Such schemes as these should be entered upon only after close and careful consideration.
– Did the honorable senator give that close and careful consideration to the proposal to purchase a trawler 7
– That proposal involved an expenditure of only a few thousand pounds, whereas this railway would involve millions; and, further, would launch the Commonwealth on a policy of borrowing, of which I do not approve. I shall resist even the appearance of evil, because I know that, if a survey be made, we shall next have a demand for the construction of the line. This question is one to be approached carefully and cautiously, and in a most scrutinizing frame of mind. How could I go to Queensland after railing against borrowing on a hundred platforms in that State, and in this Chamber, and submit to the people there a proposition to borrow £5,000,000 for a railway in some other portion of the Commonwealth? I should be ‘hooted out of the State as one who is unworthy to be intrusted with its interests.
– Does the honorable senator say that Queensland should get the benefit of the sugar bounties and should give nothing to the other States ?
– All that has been settled, and we did not ask for anything unreasonable in connexion with the White Australia policy. This is a different question. It is a question of the Commonwealth building a railway for two of the States, and I am not inclined to agree to it without a great deal more information than I have at present. I expected that the
Bill would be defeated on its second reading, and I did not, therefore, trouble very much about it. Seeing that the Senate, in its wisdom, has passed the second reading of the Bill, and we are now being pledged not only to the making of the survey, but, in a manner, to the building of the line, we should get all the information we can, and I heartily support the proposal that the measure should be referred to a Select Committee. I trust nhat thd honorable senators who support the Bill will agree to that proposal. If they do not we can only come to the conclusion that they are determined to have the railway whether the country through which it will go is good or bad, whether it will pay or not, and whether it will or will not be a burden on the Commonwealth. We must simply conclude that they have made up their minds that the railway must be built whatever the consequence. I do not think that is a position which any representative man ought to take up. We have had quite enough of non-paying railways in Australia already. We know the load of debt under which Australia is staggering because railways have been built here, there, and everywhere, in all the States, without the remotest chance of their paying their way. On the top of all that we are asked to embark on what, from the information before me, I believe to be one of the most extravagant proposals for railway construction that has ever been mooted even in Australia. We all require more information on the question.
– The honorable senator has made that statement six times. I call Eis attention to standing order 407 -
The President or Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition.
I think the honorable senator has been guilty of tedious repetition, and I warn him that if he continues in that course I must bring the standing order into force.
– I am exceedingly sorry if I have been tediously repeating myself. I can assure honorable senators that if they have felt bored by my utterances, I have felt considerably more bored in being compelled to make them, so that we are nearly quits. In any case, I have said nearly all that I desire to say. I trust that I have convinced some honorable senators who support the Bill that it is desirable and necessary that it should be referred to a Select Committee in order that we may get more information before we’ embark on such a huge undertaking as the construction of this line will certainly be.
– I hope that the motion will not be prosecuted. I do not think that it is desirable that we should occupy further time in its discussion. It seems to me that the motion is one to shelve the question. At any rate, we should not pass it, for the reason that it could not be given effect to without the shelving of the measure for this session. I am opposed to the proposed railway, and I intend to vote against the third reading of the Bill. But I think there has been a very full discussion on this question in two sessions, with all the information that it would be possible for a Select Committee to get. The members of the Select Committee could not go over the ground, or if they did-
– They would never come back alive.
– Very likely. The Select Committee would cease to exist as such with the close of the session. It is obvious that the members of such a Committee could not, between now and the end of the session, make any inquiry, or submit a report in time to enable the Senate to consider it. I think that if a Select Committee had the fullest possible time to inquire into this matter there is no information it could get that is not already in the possession of honorable senators. We have the reports of gentlemen who have traversed the proposed route, the reports of railway experts who were asked to deal with the question, and also of military experts, and the discussion of the measure has shown that honorable senators have a great deal of information on the subject, and, indeed, as much information as they could be expected to have short of a detailed survey of the line. I do not think we have before us evidence which warrants us in making the detailed survey, but the Senate has decided against that view by carrying the second reading of the Bill. Those who think that the survey should not be made have been beaten, and the majority of the members of the Senate are entitled to have their opinions on this issue respected. To set up a motion which can only frustrate the wish of the majority is a kind of parliamentary fighting which might be warranted where some very great principle is at stake.
– We have already evidence of the fact that we never know what an hour may bring forth.
– Where some great principle is at issue what we are in the habit of describing as “ stonewalling “ is admissable, and, indeed, meritorious; but I urge thatthe course now suggested is not wise, and is not justified by the circumstances. I shall vote against the motion. We had better let the Bill get into Committee, and see whether it is possible to amend it there in such a way as to render it less objectionable, and, possibly, unobjectionable.
Question - That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … …. 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
In Committee :
Clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Act 1906.
– During the debate on the second reading the advocates of the Bill said that its enactment would not commit the Senate to the construction of the proposed railway. They also assured us at various times, and most emphatically, that it was merely a Bill for exploration and inquiry, in order to see whether the country would justify the construction of the line. I propose to take my honorable friends at their word, and to move to amend the Bill accordingly. The long title of the Bill is-
An Act to authorize the survey of route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia.
It will be necessary to amend the long title as well as the short title, because the latter reiterates what is contained in the former - that it is a Bill to authorize the survey of a route for a railway.
– Surely it is a railway survey Bill?
– My honorable friends did not say that it was a railway survey Bill so much as an exploration and inquiry Bill. In order to make the point quite clear, I move -
That the word “ Survey “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Exploration.”
If it is proposed to make a flying or permanent survey, I am quite satisfied that a vote of £20,000 will not be sufficient, but it will be sufficient to make an adequate exploration, in which, if the Government like, skilled surveyors could be employed, and’ which would enable us to form a correct idea as to whether it would pay the Commonwealth to proceed further or not.
– I would direct the attention of the honorable senator to standing order 179, which says that -
The title shall agree with the order of leave, and no clause shall be inserted in any such Bill foreign to its title.
Again, standing order 194 reads -
Any amendment may be made to any part of the Bill, provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and be otherwise in conformity with the rules and orders of the Senate.
The subject-matter of this Bill is the subjectmatter as affirmed by the second reading, namely, to authorize the survey of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia. I must therefore rule that the amendment is out of order.
– I desire to ask you, sir, whether it would not be competent for me to move an amendment in the nature of an alternative, to provide for the survey of a route to connect either Kalgoorlie or Esperance Bav with Port Augusta?
– I am afraid that the honorable and learned senator cannot move such an amendment. In its title the
Bill names Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta, and to name, another place like Esperance Bay would be quite foreign to the title.
– Not to omit Kalgoorlie, but to name Esperance Bay as an alternative to Kalgoorlie 1
– The Committee has not received from the Senate an instruction to insert an alternative, and an amendment such as the honorable and learned senator has indicated would, I think, require an instruction.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Minister may cause a survey to be made of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia.
– It will be within the recollection of honorable senators that on a previous occasion I moved an amendment to the effect that the Bill be not further considered until the consent of South Australia had been obtained to the construction of the railway. It will also be within their knowledge that the Constitution Act only empowers the Commonwealth to acquire or construct a railway with the consent of the State through which it passes. We have obtained the consent of Western Australia to build the portion of the proposed railway which will be contained in that State, but we have not yet got the consent of South Australia to build the remaining portion. -
– We have got the consent of South Australia to the making of a survey, and that is all we are asking power to do in the Bill.
– Would any State be so foolish as to refuse the expenditure of Commonwealth money within its territory without committing the State to anything? I defy the Minister, as a representative of South Australia, to say that it will give its consent to the construction of the railway.
– Is the honorable senator in order, sir, in discussing the question of the consent of South Australia, which is not mentioned in the clause, until he has moved an amendment to that effect ? If the honorable senator can speak at length on that subject, merely by indicating that he intends to move an amendment, it will be possible for an honorable senator to discuss any subject under the sun by promising at the conclusion of his remarks to move an amendment, and then changing his mind.
– I submit, sir, that after indicating my intention to move an amendment, it is quite within my province to speak at length on its subject-matter, But apart from that consideration the whole question is involved in this clause, and I am entitled to discuss the attitude of South Australia, inasmuch as its consent would be necessary to give full effect to the Bill, even if I did not move an amendment.
– Every honorable senator heard Senator Givens say that he intended to move an amendment dealing with the question of the consent of the two States concerned, and mention that on a previous occasion he had moved a similar amendment. It has been the universal practice for the President, as well as yourself, sir, to allow an honorable senator who has indicated his intention to move an amendment to speak thereon without compelling him to state its exact terms. But apart from that practice, sir, I submit that Senator Givens, whether he indicated that he intended to move an amendment or not, was conforming to the Standing Orders. He did not utter a single word which was not perfectly relevant to the clause, whether he concludes his speech with an amendment or not. I therefore submit, sir, that there is no point of order involved.
– The point of order is that Senator Givens should state his amendment before bringing forward his arguments. I rule that the honorable senator is not called upon to state his amendment before addressing himself to the clause.
– How are we to know that the arguments are pertinent to the amendment until we know what it is ?
– When Senator Givens uses arguments that are out of order no doubt some honorable senator will draw my attention to them.
– After this display of virtuous indignation, perhaps I may be allowed to proceed. The honorable senator who has raised a point of order knows as well as I do what amendment I intend to move. Without the consent of- South Australia we have no power to follow up the expenditure of any money on the survey bv effective action. I challenge the Minister of Defence, as well as other representatives of South Australia, to tell us now that we shall obtain the consent of that State to build the line.
– He has already said that we shall not.
– I have not said anything of the kind. Let the honorable senator speak the truth.
– As a matter of fact, the majority of the senators representing South Australia have on various occasions plainly intimated that, while they were in favour of the survey, they were altogether opposed to the railway. I am not concerned with protecting any rights that South Australia may have, because they are amply safeguarded by the representatives of that State. But I am anxious to conserve the rights of the people of the Commonwealth, and am also anxious that the money of the taxpayers shall not be fooled away in wild-cat schemes, which may or may not end in practical work. We are proposing to spend £20,000 - or it may be £50,000 - upon the survey of a line. When we have incurred that expenditure South Australia may step in, and tell us that she refuses her consent to its construction.
– I rise to order. There is not a word in the clause under discussion about the construction of a railway. The clause simply states that a survey shall be made. I hold, therefore, that to discuss the construction of the railway atthis stage is entirely out of order.
– I ask, in all seriousness, what on earth we are doing with a survey Bill if it is not proposed to build the railway afterwards? I. contend that my remarks were perfectly relevant, because it would be foolish for us to be discussing a survey Bill if it were not intended afterwards to follow it up by the construction of a line. Any one with common sense must see that the survey is part and parcel of the whole project.
– I - I submit that the Committee cannot possibly discuss the question of the survey without having in mind the railway which it is intended to build. The clause itself says that the Minister can cause a survey to be made of a route for the construction of a railway. Senator Givens was proceeding to argue that it would be wise not to proceed with the Bill until we had the unconditional consent of the South Australian Parliament to the survey being made along a particular route. Senator de Largie’s point of order seems to me to be absurd. Senator Givens’ argument was entirely relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– Clearly, I think Senator Givens was in order in pointing out why the clause should not be adopted. His argument is that if we spend money on a survey, and are afterwards satisfied that it is desirable to make a railway, we shall still have to obtain the consent of the South Australian Government. That may or may not be a sound argument, but I submit that it is relevant and in order.
– The clause appears to me to have a wider significance than honorable senators imagine. The whole question of whether a railway shall be constructed appears to me to be involved in the clause. Paragraph xxxiv. of section 51 of the Constitution bears upon it. It gives the Commonwealth power in the matter of railway construction in any State with the consent of that State. The survey of a route is a necessary part of the procedure, for the construction of a railway. There can be no construction without a survey. Further, there can be no construction in a State without the consent of the people of that State. We have no power to enter South Australian territory even for the purpose of surveying without the consent of the people of South Australia. If my argument be sound, surely Senator Givens was in order.
– I think the wording of the clause explains why the Western Australian senators are so anxious that the Bill should be passed. As soon as the first peg is put in by the surveyors we shall have commenced to make the railway. As a matter of fact, the earthworks, the construction of culverts, and so on might begin as soon as a few miles of the survey were made. A survey is part of railway construction. This accounts for the persistency of the Western Australian senators in endeavouring to get the Commonwealth committed to the survey. I think that Senator Givens’ argument was entirely relevant to the clause.
– I understand the point of order to be that Senator Givens is not in order in arguing that the consent of the people of South Australia has not been obtained for the construction of the railway. He contends that the consent of the people of South Australia is necessary before the line can be constructed. Those might have been good arguments against the proposal to read the Bill a second time; but the second reading having been carried, and the principle that a survey shall be made having been affirmed, I do not think that the honorable senator is in order in arguing that the consent of the people of a State must be obtained for the construction of the railway before this clause can be passed.
– Suppose it had been overlooked during the debate on the second reading that the construction which I have suggested might be put upon the clause.
– I am not here to give rulings upon supposititious cases. It is not for me to say whether a point was overlooked or otherwise. It is not my duty, I say, with all respect to the honorable senator, to pass an opinion on such a point. It will be observed that the clause under discussion concerns the proposed survey. It has nothing to do with construction. I take it that if a railway is hereafter to be constructed, another Bill will have to be introduced. In that case the honorable senator will be quite in order in moving an amendment, and in using arguments to the effect that the consent of the people of South Australia must be obtained before the construction can be carried out.
– I do not like, at this hour of the evening, Mr. Chairman, to move that your ruling be disagreed with, though I feel strongly inclined to do so. I hold that a survey is a necessary part of the construction of a railway just as the plans and specifications of a building are a necessary part of the’ work for its erection. Would any one commence to lay the foundations of a building upon a piece of land without first ascertaining whether he ‘had the- right to build there at all?
– The honorable senator says that he has no desire to challenge my ruling, but he is not obeying it now.
– I will submit my amendment, in order to ascertain whether the Chairman will rule that it is out of order. I move -
That the following words be inserted at the beginning of the clause: - “Upon the State of South Australia giving the necessary permission authorizing the construction of a railway through that State.”
This amendment will insure that any money spent on the survey will not be wasted, and it provides for a necessary preliminary - namely, the necessary authority - to our proceeding with the construction of a line.
– I shall take this amendment as being merely formal, seeing that I have already ruled that it is out of order.
– I take it, sir, that you have not ruled as to this amendment ; and I should like to address to you one or two arguments if you will permit me to do so.
– The Chairman could not rule out of order an amendment which had not been moved.
– I ruled Senator Givens out of order in using certain arguments which I deemed to be irrelevant.
– But you did not rule the amendment out of order. I think there will have to be a fresh ruling in regard to the. amendment, and, therefore, I should like to be allowed to speak on that point.
– I was about to give a ruling. It is my duty to try to expedite the progress of business within reason; and I think that it will facilitate business if I at once rule this amendment out of order, so as to give Senator Givens an opportunity to carry out what I believe to be his intention - to challenge the ruling.
– I do challenge the ruling, and I shall put my objection in writing.
– I have received from Senator Givens his objection to my ruling stated in the following words: -
I disagree with the Chairman’s ruling on the ground that my amendment is perfectly relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
In the ‘Senate:
The Chairman of Committees. - I beg to report that when in Committee on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, Senator Givens proposed to amend clause 2, which gives the Minister power to make a survey of the route, by inserting at the commencement the words -
Upon the State of South Australia giving the necessary permission authorizing the construction of the railway through that State.
I ruled that amendment out of order because standing order 194 provides -
Any amendment may be made to any part of the Bill, provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and be otherwise in conformity with the rules and orders of the Senate.
I take it that the subject-matter of the Bill is the subject-matter as carried at the second reading. That subject-matter is as stated in the title to the Bill -
To authorize the survey of route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia.
I hold that the question of the survey of the route is quite different from the question of the construction of the railway. My ruling may be made clearer if I state that had the honorable senator moved to insert the words, “ Provided that the consent of South Australia shall be first obtained for such survey,” he might have been in order. But I hold that the honorable senator is not in order in moving that the consent of South Australia shall first be obtained to the construction of the line.
– On the point of order I submit that clause 2 of the Bill, if passed, would commit the Commonwealth to the expenditure of a very large sum of money for a certain purpose, which, at present we have not the right to complete. The proposal is to spend £20,000 in surveying a route for a railway, and if we have not the consent of South Australia to the building of the railway, or it should be withheld at some future time, the £20,000 spent on the survey will be absolutely wasted, so far as the purpose of this Bill is concerned. The Bill, in making provision for the survey of the route of a railway, presupposes that the Commonwealth will require to build the line. It cannot be assumed that the Commonwealth Parliament would be so foolish as to agree to the expenditure of £20,000 on a project which it had no prospect of completing. Until we obtain the consent of South Australia to the building of the line, we are powerless to complete this project. I therefore maintain that it was in order for me to move, as a necessary condition precedent to the spending of the money on the proposed survey, that the consent of South Australia to the construction of the railway should be had, in order that the money voted for the survey might not be absolutely wasted.
– Senator Givens’ proposed amendment means neither more nor less than a condition imposed on the Minister. It means that the survey is to be made if the Minister complies with a certain condition. If it should be carried, its effect will be that the Minister will be empowered to carry out the survey if he complies with a certain condition which the Senate thinks should be inserted in the measure. This is a consideration quite apart from the question of the construction of the railway, a point which might properly be submitted, but which might just as well be left out. There is nothing in the words of the proposed amendment which would have the effect of doing any more than to impose some condition and limitation on the Minister’s action, and the amendment in no way violates the authority given by the order of leave to authorize the survey. The amendment would authorize the Minister to proceed with the survey if he complied with a certain condition which I maintain is quite relevant to the measure, and is paralleled by many conditions which the Senate has imposed in agreeing, to other Bills. Nothing is more common than for the Senate, in giving power to the Minister to do certain things, to say that he shall do them subject to compliance with conditions which must be observed beforehand.
– This position might arise : We authorize the survey, and spend £20,000 on it. Assuming that that will be sufficient to carry out the work, the survey is made along what is considered the most suitable route in the interests of the Commonwealth, and the gauge is fixed at what is considered suitable from our point of view. The Premier of South Australia has said that, before the Government of that State can give their consent to the construction df the railway, they must be consulted as to both the route and the gauge. Their idea of both might be widely different from that of the surveyor. He might make the best survey that could be made from our point of view, and recommend the adoption of the best gauge, say the 4 ft. 81 in. gauge. The South Australian Government might say, “ We will not have that, because it will not fit in with our railway system, which is built on the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge.” Another contingency which might arise is that, if the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge were adopted at the outset, it might lead to the route taking an entirely different direction; to that which would be chosen for the railway if the 4 ft. 8J in. gauge were adopted. It therefore seems absolutely indispensable that, before we take any action or spend a sixpence under this measure, we should know what route and what gauge will be approved by the Parliament of South Australia.
– The Chairman of Committees in ruling Senator Givens’ proposed amendment out of order relies on standing order 194, which reads -
Any amendment may be made at any part of the Bill, provided the same is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and be otherwise in conformity with the rules and orders of the Senate.
The question is: Is the proposed amendment relative to the subject-matter of the Bill, which is a proposal for the survey of a route? Clearly it is relevant to that subject to impose any condition the Senate considers wise, provided that such condition is not in some other way out of accord with the Standing Orders or with the Constitution. It seems to me that the amendment proposed is perfectly relevant, because it does not propose to alter the subject-matter of the ‘Bill, but merely prescribes a condition which will make the survey, if undertaken, more beneficial to the Commonwealth. It must be remembered that the Constitution prescribes that, if we have decided to make a survey of a railway, and the survey shows that it is wise that the railway should be built, we cannot proceed to construct the line without the consent of the State through whose territory it will pass. It therefore appears to me to be perfectly relevant and proper that, as we are going, to spend £20,000 on the proposed survey, we should first have the consent of South Australia to the making of the railway, if the information disclosed by the survey should lead us 10 the conclusion that it ought to be made.
The Chairman of Committees. - Should not the constitutional point have been raised against the passing of the second reading of the Bill?
– On the second reading we were all in accord on the issue that under certain circumstances it would be desirable to make the survey of a route. But now we have come to the question of how and under what conditions it should be made. It is only proposed to lay down a condition which prudential considerations lead some honorable senators to think should be imposed. I submit that, as it is distinctly relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, the amendment is in order.
– If the contention of Senators Styles and Trenwith were upheld, it would be competent for the Committee to lay down in this clause conditions as to the route or the gauge of the proposed railway. And if that could be done, it could also lay down conditions as to the weight of rails to be used, and the class of buildings to be erected. If the condition that the consent of South Australia shall be first obtained is inserted in the clause, as Senator Styles has contended it should be, why should she not be con sulted as to the route and the gauge of the proposed railway? The object of the amendment is not to secure the consent of South Australia to the making of the survey, but to something which is quite outside the scope of the Bill. I contend, sir, that as the Bill deals with a survey, and not with construction, it is not in order to lay down in clause 2 any conditions in regard to construction, no matter what they may be.
– Before you, sir, rule on the point of order, I desire to draw your attention to the constitutional aspect of the question. In the case ofl this Bill, as in the case of other measures, we have to rely on our constitutional powers, whether given to us directly or indirectly. It seems to me that the only constitutional power we have to pass this Bill is granted in paragraph xxxiv. of section 51 of the Constitution -
Railway construction and extension in any State with the consent of that State.
If the view of Senator Pearce were carried out, we should not be entitled to do more than enact that the survey of a route shall be made. When we are asked to expend £20,000 on a survey, it is of the greatest consequence for us to know whether it would be ample for the purpose or not. Therefore, the question of whether the railway shall be built on a gauge of 2 ft., or 3 ft. 6 in., or 4 ft. 81 in., or 5 ft. 3 in. is a very important one. because the variation of the gauge would involve a considerable increase in the cost of the survey, the taking of levels, and the taking out of quantities. It seems to me, sir. that the whole question from first to last is not that of a survey of the line, but the committing of the Commonwealth to its construction.
– In mv opinion, the amendment is not relevant, for the simple, reason that the clause does not refer to the construction of the railway, but solely to the survey of a route. Another Bill would be required to authorize the construction of the railway. It would be just as relevant to the clause to discuss the financing of the railway as the question of its construction.
– Suppose, sir, that the Government had embodied the amendment of Senator Givens in the clause, would it then have been possible for am honorable senator to take the point that the provision did not come within the order of leave, or the scope or title of the Bill? I take it, sir, that that contention could not be advanced. The wording, “ To authorize the survey of route,” is quite sufficient to cover a proposal that there should be certain conditions attachable to the survey. An amendment which went beyond the title of the Bill would be out of order, but in this case it is not sought to superimpose any conditions that are not implied in the title. In fact, we could provide that the survey should be for a railway of 5 ft. 3 in. gauge, or for any other gauge we chose. It is important that the powers of the Committee should not be restricted in this respect. It should be able to amend any Bill that comes before it, so long as the amendment have a reasonable degree of relevance to the subject-matter.
– I contend that an honorable senator has no right to move an amendment imposing conditions such as that the survey shall not be made unless the consent of a State is given. The title of the Bill’ would have to be altered if an amendment were permitted so as to include some such words as “ Subject to the following conditions.” There are no conditions in this Bill.
– There is the condition that the survey is not to cost more than , £20,000.
– I contend that the ruling of the Chairman of Committees was perfectly sound. Of course, we do not want to limit the Committee unnecessarily in respect of making amendments, but in this instance I hold that Senator Givens’ amendment is undoubtedly irrelevant to the subject-matter.
– I think I can suggest an illustration which has some bearing upon the question. Senator Givens’ amendment stipulates that a condition shall be attached to the survey. I do not think that any one would contend as a general principle that conditions cannot be imposed so long as thev do not violate the purposes of the Bill. Suppose that instead of moving the amendment which he has done, Senator Givens proposed an amendment in the words, “ Conditional upon South Australia paving the sum of £1,000.” Surely that would be relevant. Yet it would only be a condition to be complied with before the survey was carried out. If it would be in order to provide a condition of that character, I fail to see how the condition that the survey shall not be carried out without the consent of the Government of South Australia can be ruled to be out of order.
– I submit that under paragraph xxxiv., section 51, of the Constitution, Senator Givens’ amendment is quite in order.
– The point of order is simply whether the amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and it has nothing to do with the Constitution.
– What is the subjectmatter of the Bill? It is to authorize a survey for a route for a railway. I contend that it is impossible to separate the survey of a railway from the question of its construction.
– There is nothing in the Bill about the construction of a rail way.
– My contention is that the survey of a railway is as much a part of its construction as the laying down of the rails. It is impossible to separate the two things. Those who would endeavour to separate survey from constructj.on are merely hair-splitting. It is altogether unworthy of a Minister in charge of the business to descend to such tactics. If the Commonwealth decided to extend one of the existing railway lines in Queensland without asking the consent of the State Government, the Commonwealth might, if it attempted to make a survey, be “ordered off the premises. We have not obtained the formal consent of South Australia either to the survey or to the building of the line.
– That has nothing to do with the point of order ; the honorable senator is arguing the main question.
– I am- putting my point as clearly as I can. If we are guided merely by the narrow interpretation of the phraseology of the order of leave I cannot help it: but it appears to me that there is a straining of the Constitution for a particular purpose.
– I feel a good deal of difficulty in dealing with this question. The Bill savs nothing whatever about the construction of the railway. That matter is not mentioned, and, although a survey may be made, it will require another Bill to authorize the construction. I must, therefore, take the Bill as I find it, utterly disconnected, so far as the Standing Orders are concerned at all events, from any question of construction. The subject-matter of the Bill is undoubtedly the survey of a route for a railway, and, speaking generally, it would be perfectly in order to insert a condition precedent to the survey being made, provided that the condition precedent had reference to the survey. But the condition precedent proposed is not connected with the survey, because the amendment provides for the State of South Australia “ giving the necessary permission authorizing the construction of a railway through that State.” It will be seen that the condition precedent refers to the permission for the construction of the line. I amvery loth to give a ruling restricting the powers of the Committee, and I do so with some diffidence, because I ami not alt all sure that I am right. It must be recollected that in all these questions of relevancy to the subject-matter of the Bill, it is only a matter of opinion. We cannot lay down a rule, but must treat every case independently. In my opinion, the Chairman is correct. As I have said, I have some diffidence in giving that opinion, but I think the Chairman is right in holding that this amendment ought not to be moved. If the amendment had contained no reference to authorizing the construction of the line, it would have been undoubtedly in order. It goes on, however, to provide that the Minister shall not order the survey unless there is the consent of South Australia, not to make the survey, but to construct the line. I do not want to unduly cramp the debate in Committee, because I think it would be a great mistake to do so ; but in this particular instance I must rule that the Chairman is right.
– Under standing order 415 I take exception to your ruling, and shall place my objection in writing.
– I have received the following from Senator Clemons : -
That the ruling of the President - that the following amendment to clause 2 of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, viz., to insert the following words “ Upon the State of South Australia giving the necessary permission authorizing the construction of a railway through that State “ is out of order - be dissented from.
Is the motion seconded?
– I beg to second the motion.
– Under the standing order the debate on the motion must be forthwithadjourned until the next sitting day.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following paper: -
Military financial and allowance regulations (compensation in case of permanent injury, or to family where death occurs), paragraphs 131 and 135, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 67.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn..
– Seeing by the Melbourne morning papers of to-day’s date that a statement appears that I have been using or influencing the funds of the Australian Mutual Provident Society in aid of a certain political party, I desire at this, the first available opportunity, to give a most emphatic and unqualified denial to the statement, adding that, having been a director of that society for the last nineteen years, I am in a position to speak authoritatively when I say that the society never interferes in party politics. The by-laws of the society forbid donations from its funds being given for any outside objects, not even excepting charitable institutions. The society is, as is well known, strictly non-political in its aims and objects, and its boards in all the States consist of men holding widely divergent political views. I think it right, in justice to the Australian Mutual Provident Society, to make that statement.
– I think that Senator Walker is entitled to make that explanation. No one in the Commonwealth believes that the officers of the Australian Mutual Provident Society are taking any part in political matters. I have been very much interested to notice that Mr. Dugald Thomson, in another place, carried the war into the camp of the Labour Party by referring to certain subscriptions given by followers and members of that party. The LabourParty organizations in the various States are willing to submit their books to the audit of any person who cares to make an investigation of them, provided that the books of the organization to which Mr. Dugald Thomson belongs are also opened to inspection. It is freely reported throughout the States that money is being subscribed by members of the Tobacco Trust on behalf of Mr. Reid’s party. It is singular that it should be stated in Queensland that when Mr. Reid visited Bundaberg the sum of £40 was paid to a theatrical company in order to secure for him the use of the theatre. That £40 was not subscribed in the ordinary way by citizens of the Commonwealth.
– Have I not the right to pay £40 or £400 for the use of a hall if I choose to do so?
– Certainly ; but if the members of the Tobacco Trust, and such men as Mr. Dixson, are subscribing large sums for the benefit of a certain political party, and if the members of the shipping ring are doing the same, it is right that the public of Australia should “be informed of it as soon as possible. If the members of Mr. Dugald Thomson’s party desire a Royal Commission to examine the books of the Labour Party, that party will give its consent at once, if Mr. Dugald Thomson will’ submit to inspection the books of the organization of which he is treasurer.
– Have we not had enough of Royal Commissions? They are stinking in the nostrils of the people all over the Commonwealth.
– So far as the Australian Mutual Provident Society is concerned, the directors of that great institution will have to be very careful that their action in connexion with politics does not bring distrust, and perhaps disfavour, upon the great society they represent.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [11.24]. - Personally, I do not care how much the various political parties fight about the way in which they return representatives to Parliament; but I certainly do object to the name of a great institution, which is known. to be conducted without respect to any political opinions, being dragged into the matter. It is possible that references of the kind to such an institution may do a very great deal of injury. Honorable senators are aware of the scandals connected with the management of such societies in America. It is one of Australia’s boasts that her institutions of a charitable character have never adopted the practices which have been followed by certain societies in the United States. I need only say that Mr. A. W. Meeks, at present Chairman of the Board of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, is a protectionist. Mr. Alfred Deakin, the leader of the present Government, is also connected with the society. When remarks reflecting on the operations of such a society are made, a reflection is cast on the men connected with it in their public capacity. I should like to know which of the public men connected with the Australian Mutual Provident Society is supposed to be running that institution for his own political purposes. A moment’s consideration is sufficient to show that there is no truth in the statements which have been made. Unfortunately, people do not take the trouble to make inquiries into such statements, and they are sometimes made use of to the detriment of the societies concerned. The public men connected with such an institution have a perfect right in their individual capacity to do what they think fit in connexion with politics, so long as they act within the law. Senator Higgs has informed us that the members of the Labour Party are prepared to produce their books if Mr. Dugald Thomson will produce the books of the organization to which he belongs. I do not know what Mr. Dugald Thomson’s books contain ; but I am perfectly satisfied that if they are investigated no reason will be found to object to anything that appears in them. When reference is made to the spending of enormous sums of money by a political organization, I can only say that the difficulty has always been to secure sufficient money to keep such organizations going, and to carry on ordinary propaganda work. I protest against accusations of political action being made against big business companies, when we know that those accusations cannot be proved. We are aware that the policy of a certain party in the Commonwealth is not approved of by many men who hold strong financial positions. There can be no legitimate objection to those men adopting any course they think advisable, in order to counteract a policy which they believe to be detrimental to the best interests of the community. I am satisfied that it will not be possible to show that anything unfair in this connexion has been done by any of the big business companies to whom reference has been made. .1 certainly have never heard any authoritative statement which would warrant the assertions to which we have listened. It is a grave mistake to drag into these political discussions the names of institutions, societies, and companies, unless there is some solid foundation for the injurious statements which are made concerning them. If it can be shown that any one has done what is improper or illegal that should certainly be exposed. No one objects to the members of the Labour Party doing all they can to give effect to their views, or advocating them fearlessly and straightforwardly. Surely the members of that party will grant the same right to people who do not see eye to eye with them?
– As there is a provision in the Electoral Act against the spending of more than £250 at an election, is it not a practical infringement of the Act for certain people to put up thousands of pounds on behalf of certain political candidates?
– - If I am anxious to secure the return of Senator Higgs, am I not to be permitted to assist his candidature by renting halls and getting speakers to support his views? The honorable senator is not entitled to expend more than £250 on his election, and no money must be spent on the election corruptly.
– Does not the Act provide that no one can spend money on an election unless with the consent of the candidate?
– Have we reached such a stage in this country that no one is to be at liberty to stand up and advocate certain political principles, unless he is a member of Parliament, or a candidate for Parliament?
– A man can spend money for a policy, but not for a candidate.
.- I am not aware that the persons referred to are expending money for candidates. I do not think that the Australian Democratic Union in New South Wales has very much to thank them for in the way of subscriptions.
– I understand that Senator Higgs has raised his voice in protest against the subscription of funds to further the candidature of certain persons at the forthcoming elections, and that he referred to the Australian Mutual Provident Society and other societies and organizations.
– No. I said that no one believed that the officers of that society were working either for or against any political association.
– I understand that the honorable senator expressed a fervent desire to inspect the books of Mr. Dugald Thomson–
– The treasurer of the so-called Democratic Union.
– In order to ascertain the expenditure of money in furthering the candidature of certain persons at the forthcoming elections.
– That, I think, expresses what I said.
– I propose to read an extract, which is, I think, very relevant to the argument, if any, adduced by the honorable senator. The Brisbane Worker, of the 8th September, contains the following article: -
Ladies and Gentlemen, -
In view of the approaching Federal Elections, which it is anticipated will take place about November next, it is necessary that the friends of the Labour movement in this State should prepare themselves for the fight in order that the best possible results may be achieved.
The Central Political Executive have been entrusted with varied responsibilities in connexion with the campaign, and to carry these out efficiently it is imperative that they should receive the active moral and financial support of the organizations and the unattached friends of the Labour movement throughout the State.
The organizations in the several divisions, through the respective divisional executives, will finance the candidatures of those whom they, have selected, or purpose selecting, to contest the seats in the House of Representatives. Upon the C.P.E. devolves the important work of financing and conducting the Senatorial campaign, for which three candidates (Senators Dawson and Higgs and J. H. Lungager) have, in accordance with the decisions of the May (1005) Convention, been finally selected.
Therefore we appeal to every Labour union, W.P.O., and all others who are desirous of maintaining and securing progressive legislation, to render such help as their circumstances will permit. All we ask is sufficient money to defray absolutely necessary expenditure.
– I think it is probable that the honorable senator was disappointed with the result. But we have no guarantee that the present appeal will not produce £1,500, and that the money will not be spent, as indicated, in furthering the candidature of Senators Dawson and Higgs and Mr. J. H. Lundager.
– -I sympathize with Senator Walker. ] do not believe that either he or the Australian Mutual Provident Society has done what has been imputed. I wish to make a statement in support of Senator Higgs, who I regret has left the Chamber. In his opinion, certain organizations in Australia are prepared to find money to fight the forthcoming elections. I happen to know a member of the Federal Parliament who was told in Melbourne only recently that his re-election could be made easy for him provided that he would vote in a certain direction on a measure which was coming before the Chamber.
– Is not that the position of these gentlemen?
– C - Certainly not, because the member who was approached by the individual was entirely opposed to the Bill.
– They have been carefully selected.
– This is a charge of attempted bribery, and, as SenatorO’Keefe has gone so far, does he not think that he ought to give the names?
– I - I am not in a position to prove my statement, and I would not be foolish enough to give the name of the individual until I was in a position to do so.
– Why make the assertion then?
– I - I am not in a position to prove that the individual who approached the member was acting for any particular organization, but I have very fair grounds for believing that he was. After saying to the member, “ How are you going to come out about you election ?” he said -
– Is that a member of the Senate?
– A m A member of the Federal Parliament.
– I rise to a point of order. It is a very serious thing for nn honorable senator to assert that a member of the Federal Parliament has been approached corruptly without mentioning the names of the persons concerned. If it is not out of order, it is extremely derogatory that a statement should be made with out the names being mentioned, because it is a reflection on every member of this Parliament.
– I cannot say that Senator O’Keefe is out of order, but I certainly think that if he intends to pursue this line of argument he ought to mention the names.
– I - I am the member of Parliament who was approached. I was approached by an individual in this city who I have reason to believe was authorized to act on behalf of a certain organization in Australia.
– The honorable senator ought to give the name, or to let the Senate probe the matter to the bottom.
– T - The point is, were the remarks made in a jocular way or not.
– It It is all very well for honorable senators to ask for the name. The gentleman who made the remarks might fall back on the assertion, “ I was only speaking jocularly.” My reply was, “ Oh, well it does not matter what my chances are at the election, and it would not make any difference in the attitude I am going to take up.”
– Was there a witness present?
– N - No. The Senate has only my word (hat the individual made the remarks. I am not in a position to say that they were not made in a jocular spirit, but I have my own opinion on that point.
– I would not say any more if I were in the honorable senator’s place. I think thathe ought not to have said so much unless he could say. more.
– I - I shall stick to what I have said. At all events, the incident I have related is sufficient ground for certain rumours which are abroad, and makes me prone to believe that there is good ground for the rumours that certain organizations - not the society mentioned by Senator Walker - are using their funds to further the political interests of certain members of this Parliament at the forthcoming elections, and to fight against the return of other candidates?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 September 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060912_senate_2_34/>.