3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to inform honorable senators that my late honorable colleague, Sir John Forrest, has resigned his office as Treasurer in the Government. I do not attempt to disguise my deep and sincere regret that he has seen fit to take that action.
– He ought to have done it long ago.
– I can say that, from his distinguished career in Western Australia, and the great experience in public affairs which he obtained there, he always brought to the Cabinet counsels which largely aided his colleagues in the discharge of their duties. However, he has seen fit to take the step, and I have to announce it to the Senate. It has involved certain alterations in the allotment of portfolios. The Honorable Sir William Lyne has’ assumed the office of Treasurer ; the Honorable Austin Chapman has assumed the office of Minister of Trade and Customs; and the Honorable Samuel Mauger has assumed the office of PostmasterGeneral.
– The honorable senator ought to have assumed that position himself.
Sale of Crown Lands : Mining Developments
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether the Government have, in accordance with the promise made to me on Wednesday, 24th July, respectfully requested the Government of South Australia to withhold the sale of Crown lands pending the consideration of the Northern Territory agreement, and if so, with what result?
– Pursuant to the promise made to my honorable friend, I consulted the Acting Prime Minister, and am informed that -
A telegram was sent to the Premier of South Australia on the 25th inst. suggesting that, in view of the negotiations for the transfer of the territory, it might be advisable not to proceed with the sales of any land, to which a reply has now been received that the Government of South Australia are not offering land in the Northern Territory for sale, but that a few allotments were offered at the town of Playford on the urgent appeals of residents.
The Premier adds, however, that, as requested by this Government, these lands have now been withdrawn, and no more land will be offered for sale pending the negotiations for transfer.
– I desire to ask the Vice- President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he is now in a position to answer the following questions which I asked last week: -
– I am now in a position to give the following answer to the questions: - 1 and 2. The Premier of South Australia reports that the only official information received respecting the mining developments in the Northern Territory was the receipt, on the nth July, of the following telegram from the Government Resident, Port Darwin, viz. : - “ Pine Creek Bore. - Drill has passed through mineralized quartz lender nine inches at 946 feet, and quartz reef seven feet eight inches at 970 feet.”
– That is the reason why the speculators were after the land.
– I desire to ask the
Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, what was the motive which actuated the Government in calling for tenders for the printing and publication of a volume of Commonwealth statistics, instead of having Government work done at a Government institution?
– The work was intended to be brought out during the latter half of this year, and we understood that at that time the Government Printing Office in Victoria would be working under very heavy pressure, owing to the fact that two Parliaments would be sitting in Melbourne. In addition to that, in bringing out a work of that character, possibly a number of alterations will have to be made up to the very last moment, in order to adjust the material to the latest information supplied. So that there should be no hitch in the bringing out of the work, tenders were invited from firms all over the Commonwealth. It wasalso considered that we might be able to get even a higher class production in that way than could be obtained from the Government Printing Office. At the same time, I want to point out that the applications for tenders specified that the Department would not be necessarily bound to accept the lowest or any particular tender, but would act in what it considered to be the best way for the production of the work itself and the furnishing of the most correct information.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister whether, if that is the reason why tenders were called, he does not think it is about time that the Government established a printing office in which high-class work could Le turned out?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister whether the Government Printing Offices in the other States have been invited to send in tenders, and whether it would not be as convenient for any corrections to be made by the Government Printing Office in Sydney as bv a private firm there?
– I believe that the attention of the Government Printer for every State was specifically drawn to the advertisement. It may be that the work, as specified in the tenders, may be distributed, and that possibly some of the matter will not need revision.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, at what period of the session he will be in a position to acquaint the Senate with the attitude of the Government in connexion with the Naval Agreement, and the proposed abolition of the Naval Subsidy?
– It is impossible to make a definite statement on the matter, in consequence of the most unfortunate illness of the Prime Minister, but if his health should soon be restored, as we have every reason to hope that it will be, the matter will receive early Cabinet consideration.
– I would ask the honorable senator to give my honorable colleague an opportunity to deal Avith the matter.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Minutes of proceedings of the Colonial Conference, held at London, April-May, 1907.
Transfers under the Audit Act 1901 in connexion with accounts of the financial year 1906-7. - Approved 19th July, 1907.
Post and Telegraph Act Regulations : Telephone Regulations. - Amendment of Regulations 30, 51, and 79; and Repeal of Regulation 55, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 74. Repeal of Regulation 4a relating to Value Payable Post, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof; and Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 75. Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 79.
Public Service Act Regulations : Repeal of Regulation SS, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 76. Return of Temporary Employes for Financial Year 1906-7.
Letter from Secretary, Department of Home Affairs, Minute of the Honorable the Minister, and extract from report of Mr. H. A. Hunt, Commonwealth Meteorologist, in March, 1907, as to organizing Meteorological Bureau.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
If it is the intention of the Government to make public the report of the Board which investigated the charges against the Customs officers at Port Adelaide, and if not, why not?
– The answer is “Yes.”
Debate resumed from 26th July (vide page 1043) on motion by Senator Best -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Once again we are called upon to consider this Bill, which, in the words of a friend of mine, might be considered a hardy annual, because it comes along every year. I think, however, that it would be more accurately described as a hardy perennial, because it appears that, no matter how often it is nipped in the bud by the blighting frost of defeat, it comes up smiling in the following spring.
– The honorable senator is getting poetical.
– The only thing I have to regret in connexion with the report of Senator Best’s speech is that he or somebody else excised the beautiful flowers of fancy with which he adorned it. If it were permissible for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to be poetical, I do not see why I should not be poetical also. Iri his first attempt to move the second reading of this Bill, the Vice-President of the Executive Council said that it was owing to the “ whirligig of politics “ that he found himself under the painful necessity - as I suppose it’ was - of doing so. He did not admit, however, that this was a final and successful moving of such a measure. I consider that the Minister’s explanations as to why he is in favour of the Bill at the present time, when we know how strongly he opposed it on previous occasions, was very laboured indeed. In fact, I think that, in the language of Lord Byron, his speech might be described as one composed in that style of rhetoric which the learned call “rigmarole,” because it consisted simply of sophistries strung together to cloak over the position in which the Minister found himself. The Senate is in an unfortunate position, inasmuch as this Bill has been introduced by so many Governments that there is now possibly a majority of the members of the Senate who feel themselves constrained to vote iri favour of it. Yet I venture to say that a number of those who will vote for the second reading are in their heart of hearts opposed to the Bill.
– The honorable senator will admit that every change of Government has brought an accession of strength to the supporters of the Bill ?
– Of course, that is so.
– The more the question is considered the more the justice of what is proposed is seen.
– For the information of the honorable senator who interjects I shall be able to show that there is not a majority of the Senate who are really in favour of the proposed railway, but that, on the contrary, a majority of honorable senators would be opposed to it if they felt free to vote according to their convictions.
– That is, if they were bold, brave, and free !
– If they were I think that they would give this measure very short shrift indeed. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated, as his main reason for being in favour of the Bill, that the Senate has no right to continue a prolonged resistance to the will of the other House.
– I never stated such a thing.
– The honorable senator stated that the measure had been so often passed by the other House that the Senate was not justified in constantly rejecting it. He will admit that he said something to that effect. But when we consider that there is a majority of the members of the Senate who are really opposed to the Bill, though, for one reason or another, some feel constrained to vote for it, I consider that those who are opposed to it have a perfect right to offer it the most strenuous opposition. At any rate, a minority, no matter what the facts of the case mav be, if they feel- that they are in the right, are perfectly justified in offering strenuous opposition to any proposal whatever, no matter how many Governments mav have proposed it.
– Are all those who are opposing the Bill doing so from conviction ?
– The pressure brought to bear noon senators to vote for this Bill has been so great that 7 do not think that any one could resist it for very long if he were merely slightly opposed to the measure. It must be remembered that the Senate does not occupy the same position as a mere Legislative Council. The Senate represents the people’s will just as much as the other House does. We are sent here to execute the commands of the people of Australia. Further, it must be recollected that the Senate exists for a particular purpose, and was called into being by the people of Australia in order to conserve and safeguard the rights of the States. That being so, if we are convinced that the rights of the States are involved in any particular matter, we have a perfect right to offer the most strenuous opposition.
– Why quarrel with us for holding the contrary view?
– I am not quarrelling with the supporters of the measure. But when we see sophistical reasons put forward for adopting a certain course of action, we have a right to combat those reasons, and show the fallacy underlying them. The Constitution itself provides a method for overcoming any deadlock between the two Houses of the Legislature. If the Government are earnest and sincere in this matter, why do they not avail themselves of that constitutional method ? This Senate has a right to resist to the last and the utmost any measure to which it is opposed, and the Constitution itself prescribes a method by which the people can decide between it and the other branch of the Legislature. I challenge the Government, if they are sufficiently in earnest in this matter, to push the test, and I think it is due to the importance of the subject that the test should be pushed, to such an extreme as to adopt that method. There is no need to quote at length from the various pamphlets, reports, and expressions of opinion which have been published in connexion with this subject, because the whole ground has been so thoroughly canvassed in this Parliament that it would only be reiteration to make extracts from them at length. It would be quoting again passages which are already embodied in Hansard. But I do propose before I sit down to enter my emphatic protest against what I can call nothing less than a piece of political jobbery being forced on the country. I say that it is political jobbery for this reason : that we have no right to spend the taxpayers’ money upon a scheme so unsound, when we would not think of spending our own money in a similar direction. Now, in my opinion, there is not a single member of the Senate who would be prepared to spend his money in the way that it is proposed to spend the money of the taxpayers on this survey.
– Are we not all taxpayers ?
– Of course we are, but the amount of taxation that we have to pay as individuals is very small in comparison with the amount which the four millions of people in this country have to pay. .Let us examine the position for a moment. South Australia has been persistently asked for her consent to the building of the proposed railway, and has persistently refused to give it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that in reply to a telegram sent to the Premier ‘of South Australia bv the Commonwealth Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin, in 1905, the Premier of South Australia said that that State gave a cordial consent to the survey. I will read the Minister’s words in comment. He said -
Is not that a most cordial approval given in the most sensible way of the passage of a Bill with the object of satisfying the Commonwealth and South Australia on points upon which they are seeking information ?
Now, the consent consists simply of this. The Premier of South Australia, in a letter dated the 1st August, in reply to a letter from the Commonwealth Prime Minister, said -
In reply to your letter of the 7th May 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 telegram therein referred to was as follows : -
We have no objection to survey Western Australian railway, but desire to be consulted as to route ; it must be understood that this in no way binds us to the ultimate approval of policy.
That is to say, the South Australian Government made the reservation that in consenting to the survey it does not in any way bind itself to any approval of policy whatever.
– Quite right, too.
– I intend to deal a little more fully with the attitude of South Australia before I have done.
– It is the same sort of reservation that several members of the Senate make, that in voting for this survey they do not pledge themselves to vote for the construction of the railway.
– Suppose for a moment that some of the senators who are not opposed to the survey were engaged in a
private transaction. It is quite a common thing for a mining syndicate to take an option over a mine for a certain period. That is to say, they have the option to purchase up to a certain day. Would such a syndicate undertake to spend £5,000 or £10,000 in determining whether it was worth while to exercise their option, unless they definitely had the right to take the mine at the stated price, and at the stated time ? Undoubtedly, there is not a single man in Australia - not a business man in any part of the world - who would be guilty of such arrant folly as that. Vet we, as the guardians of the welfare of the people of Australia propose to be guilty of such a ridiculous piece of folly.
– A syndicate might spend a large sum in order to determine whether it was worth while to exercise the option.
– They certainly would not spend a large sum unless they saw a definite chance of completing the transaction; or, if they did, it would only be for the purpose of corrupting the directors or currying favour with them.
– Does the honorable senator think that a comparison between mining companies and a Government is a fair one?
– I am illustrating the position by a reference to what people would do in their ordinary private affairs. Not a day passes without such a transaction as I have described taking place in the mining world. It is quite a common thing for a company which desires to buy a mine to obtain an option over it with the proviso that it must spend a stipulated sum by a stated period. That money is spent inorder to determine whether it is worth while to exercise the option or not. But we are asked to spend £20,000, with the knowledge that we shall have to spend ,£50,000 before we have finished with the business, on an alleged option to do a certain thing without the slightest prospect of our ever having the right to complete the transaction. We have not yet been given the option. There is not the slightest chance of being able to obtain it. For the last three years, and at the present moment, one-half of the honorable senators representing South Australia in this Chamber have been opposed to the building of the suggested railway.
– Past history.
– I say that that is the case at the present moment. I challenge the South Australian senators to rise in the course of this debate and pledge themselves in favour of the building of the railway. That is a straight-out challenge to them.
– We are not discussing the building of the railway. This is merely a Bill for a railway survey.
– Of course we know that South Australian senators have not the slightest objection to the spending of £20,000 in their State. So long as they are not bound so far as the construction of the line is concerned they are quite disinterested in the matter.
– We are always seeking for information.
– It will require a good deal of information to justify such a gross political job, as on the face of it this proposal is.
– Let the honorable senator vote for the survey and he will get the information.
– Information as to a route which South Australia might not allow us to follow.
– South Australia, ir> giving her consent to the survey, makes a further important condition. She must be consulted as to the route and gauge of the railway. She will then be in a position to say, “ We would be willing to let you build the line, only we are not satisfied with this route, or with that gauge.” Has any one ever heard of such a ridiculous proposition as that this Parliament should be asked to spend £20,000 on such conditions? Most of the South Australian people to whom I have had the pleasure of talking on the subject say that they would be satisfied only with a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge which would be uniform with the ruling gauge of the railways already constructed in the State. Again many people, who are in favour of the building of the railway say that a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge for a main trunk line of that kind would be useless. Here is ground for a renewal of the whole difficulty on the question of the gauge to be adopted. It is well known to any one who is acquainted with railway construction that a survey that would be suitable for a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line would not be suitable for a 4 ft. 8J in. line. The narrower the gauge the sharper the curves that may be adopted, and it is more easy to follow the natural contour of the country with a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line than with one of 4 ft. 8^ in. gauge. Therefore, a survey that would be suitable for a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge railway would be unsuitable for a railway on the wider gauge.
– That need not make the slightest difference in the survey proposed to be made under this Bill.
– I do not know how Senator Story can speak so authoritatively on this matter.
– We shall have the mono railway presently.
– That is a splendid reason for delay. We might have transportation by balloon, and therefore why not delay this matter?
– Delays are dangerous.
– Of course they are. A further difficulty raised by South Australia is that before she can consent to anything in the way of the construction of the line she must be consulted as to the route as well as the gauge. The route which the Commonwealth Parliament might, in its wisdom, decide to be the best to adopt might not suit South Australia at all, and the people of that State would then use their reservation as to the route as a subterfuge to refuse consent to the building of the line. Such an unbusiness-like proposition really does not deserve serious consideration for a moment.
– These are only remote possibilities.
– The possibility and, in fact, the certainty at the present time is that a majority of the South Australian representatives in the Senate are not in favour of the building of the railway. It is equally certain that a majority of the South Australian representatives in another place, and of the people of South Australia, are not at present in favour of the building of the railway. Otherwise why all these objections and conditions. If the people of South Australia do not object to the construction of the line, why do they not do as the people of Western Australia have done, and give us their consent without any humbugging about it? It is evident that nobody in South Australia is in favour of the building of the line at present. Whilst they raise no objection to the spending of ^20,000 on the survey, they are not likely to do anything which will commit that State to giving its consent to the building of the line. It is all very well for South Australia and Western Australia to secure the expenditure of this money if they can, but the other States have to be considered, and as they would have to find the major portion of it, they should have some guarantee that it would not be thrown away. Some honorable senators apply a salve to their consciences in voting for this Bill by saying that it is something more than a Survey Bill, and the expenditure of the money will be justified by the advantages of exploration or some other reason.
– Why should not the States concerned pay for the exploration of their own territory ?
– There is not one word about exploration in the Bill. If it is a Bill for the exploration of territory in the States concerned, why not be honest about it and say so?
– It would not receive support on that condition.
– Why not sugar the cane-fields ?
– I have not the slightest objection to Senator Findley going in for any folly he pleases if he will but fmd the money for it.
– I do not say that this proposal is folly. Queensland has received a bounty for the sugar industry.
– That only shows the confusion of the honorable senator’s intellect. What about the protection, afforded to the various industries of Victoria and of every other State in the Commonwealth?
– We had protection in Victoria before Federation, but Queensland was in a very backward way.
– Although, Victoria had protection before Federation, she had a restricted market which did not amount to much. The sugar industry of Queensland owes no more to the Commonwealth than does any other protected industry.
– It was the salvation of Queensland.
– I do not wish to enter into a. discussion with Senator Findley on the merits of free-trade and protection;. The honorable senator is aware that I am a protectionist, and that I consider a policy of protection to be the salvation of the young industries of the Commonwealth.
– We could get the samekind of bounty for any agricultural industry as that which has been granted to the sugar industry.
-We could offer bounties to other industries on the same terms, and, as a matter of fact, we give a higher rate of protection to the manufacturers of jam in Victoria, but I am not continually chucking that into Senator Find ley’s face.
– I aim not throwing the sugar bounty into the honorable senator’s face. It is he who is throwing statements at other honorable senators.
– We are continually being told of the enormous advantage which the proposed line would be to Western Australia and the Commonwealth if it were constructed, but I fail to see where the advantage to the Commonwealth would come in. I should be extremely obliged to advocates of the construction of the line if they would point it out. Senator O’Loghlin remarked a little time ago that I am possessed by an enormous thirst for information.
– It is the object of this Bill to supply the honorable senator with information.
– I wish to know from the honorable senator where the enormous advantage to the Commonwealth of the construction of this line is to come in, and whilst he is giving that information, the honorable senator might get up and pledge himself in favour of the building of the line.
– One thing at a time.
– The first thing is the survey, and after that. I suppose one man will bring along one rail in one year, another man will bring along a peg the next year, and another a dog spike, and in that way South Australia will get out of the whole business. There are only two reasons which can be advanced for the construction of this fine. One is the settlement of the great territory of Western Australia, and the other its advantages for purposes of defence.
– They are fairly good reasons.
– They would be if there were a shadow of substance in either of them. Senator Henderson must be aware that Western Australia owes its marvellous progress during the last fifteen years to the discovery of the great goldfields in the heart of that State. It is safe to say that Western Australia would to-day be of perhaps smaller importance than any other State in the Commonwealth in regard to population, wealth and industry, were it not for the discovery of those gold-fields. To be of advantage to that State, the proposed railway must benefit the gold-fields which are intended to be the Western Australian terminus of the line.
What are the facts with regard to Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie, and the surrounding goldfields? I venture to say that it would not be of one farthing’s worth of tangible benefit to them,. I say further, that the .building of the line would not make it one whit easier for any working man in Western Australia to earn a living. It would not lighten his load in the slightest degree, and it is a matter of surprise to me that honorable senators who believe with myself that the policy adopted by the Labour Party is the only policy which can do good to the class they represent, are found doing all they possibly can to help this proposal along as one of the measures which would be of value in assisting the toilers of this country to work out their own salvation.
– No one has claimed that -for this Bill. This is a Survey Bill.
– I claim, if the honorable senator will allow me, that the proposal would not lighten the load of a single working man in Australia.
– No one has claimed! that it would.
– It would provide employment.
– If all we are aiming at is to provide people with profitable employment, why not spend this money ir* the more civilized portions of the Commonwealth, where the people employed may enjoy the comforts of life?
– It might turn out to be very profitable employment. That isthe crux of the whole thing.
– If so, the two States that must reap the advantage of the profit from the undertaking should be at the risk of its cost.. It is universally admitted that goods cannot be carried nearly so cheaply by railways, no matter how economically they are worked, as by sea.
– They have to be conveyed to the sea.
– Of course; but if we are to build this line to convey goods tothe sea there are places at which they could be conveyed to the sea before wereach Kalgoorlie. For instance, there are Port Augusta and Eucla, and if those places are passed the goods must be carried further inland. We are told by the advocates of the line that it is an enormous handicap to the people of Western Australia that they should be four days’ steam from the eastern States, and should then have the long train journey from the western coast of Western Australia to reach tlie heart of the country. But there is an easier way out of that difficulty than that proposed by this Bill. A railway which would be of real and lasting advantage to the people of the gold-fields, bringing them nearer to the coast, and enabling them to get their goods at a very much lower rate, thus cheapening the cost of living, would toe a line <f’rom Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay, which would also give speedier communication with the eastern States.
– And that line is being constructed at the present time.
– That is so; it is being constructed at present from Kalgoorlie to Norseman, which is more than half the way to Esperance Bay. But to further
A policy for the benefit and glorification of the property-owners of Perth and Fremantle we are being asked to spend ^5,000,000 of money. That is a ridiculous policy, and one which should not be tolerated for a moment in a sensible assembly. Is it not a fact that a railway to Esperance Bay would shorten the journey from the gold-fields by land to the sea by from 120 to 150 miles, and bring the people of the gold-fields two days nearer by steamer to the eastern States? Whereas it takes under two days for a steamer to go from Adelaide to Esperance Bay, it takes four days by sea from Fremantle to Adelaide. The railway from the gold-fields to Esperance Bay is the one that would be of advantage to the people of Western Australia, and the cost of building it is easily within the means of that State. Its construction would benefit the people there.
– They would have to pay for that railway themselves.
– Of course, and it would not be a very heavy tax on them. That is not the consideration which stops the Government of Western Australia from building it. Their objection is that it would detract from the importance and advantage of the property owners in Fremantle and Perth, and give the people of the gold-fields another outlet to the sea. The people in Perth and Fremantle would not then be able to fleece the inland producers for all time, as they want to do now. That is why they are so eager to get a Bill passed providing for the expenditure of Commonwealth money to further their nefarious objects, and to stave off for all time the building of the railway which would be really useful to the gold-fields people.
– Is “nefarious” a proper word to use? If it is not a proper word, I ask that the honorable senator withdraw it.
– The honorable senator is not in order in using the word “nefarious.” I ask him to withdraw it.
– With all due respect, sir-
– I have already given a ruling on the point of order. I must call upon the honorable senator to withdraw the word. I cannot allow him to debate the question now.
– I used the word in describing the objects and intentions of the property owners in Perth and Fremantle.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the expression. I have no desire to unduly restrain honorable senators in debate, but when a decision has been given from the Chair it must be obeyed.
– I withdraw the word, but-
– I must ask the honorable senator not to debate my ruling.
– I am not doing so.
– The honorable senator has now withdrawn the word. I am satisfied, and I am quite sure the Senate is satisfied also. I desire the honorable senator to proceed with the debate, and not to argue whether he was wise in withdrawing the word or not.
– I am not arguing.
– I ask the honorable senator not to allude to the matter further.
– The delectable intentions of the property owners, which I am not allowed to allude to in the words that accurately describe my own feelings, should not be countenanced in this Senate, or commend themselves in any way to the representatives of the people of Australia. Such a railway as I have described from the goldfields to Esperance Bay has long been desired bv the people of the gold-fields.
– What has that to do with this Survey Bill ?
– It has a great deal to do with it, because if that line were built there would be no traffic for the proposed Commonwealth line if it were constructed.
– They are busy building it.
– They are building it as far as Norseman.
– How does the honorable senator know ?
– I can read the papers as well as the honorable senator.
– There is no reason or necessity why the line should stop at Norseman.
– There is no reason why it should not have been built years ago.
– There was a good reason.
SenatorGIVENS.- The fact remains that it was not built. I accept the honorable senator’s statement that it is being built now, and if that is so, then there is no necessity for this proposed railway at all, as there would be nothing whatever for it to do if it was built. Nobody would be so foolish as to travel by rail at the enormous fares that would have to be charged in order to make the line a paying proposition, when he could travel cheaply by sea. Of course, a few wealthy individuals to whom£10or £20 was a mere bagatelle could afford to travel by rail, and the line would also be used by a few business people whose time was exceedingly valuable, but the great majority of the population of the gold-fields would never use it at all. They would go by rail from Kalgoorlie or Coolgardie to Esperance, and then take ship to the eastern States. We have the experience of our existing InterState lines to guide us. The bulk of the passengers from Adelaide to Melbourne, Melbourne to Sydney, and Sydney to Brisbane go by steamer. The expense would be very much greater in proportion on this line, because the distance is so much greater. . The railway from the gold-fields to Esperance, as it would bring the people two days nearer by sea to the eastern States, and shorten the distance bv land from the gold-fields to the sea by over 120 miles, would be an enormous advantage to the people, and yet Western Australia, as represented by its Government, if that Government does truly represent it, refuses the people of the gold-fields that great concession, although going continually cap in hand to the Commonwealth and asking it to build a comparatively useless railway for them. We are asked in this Bill to take the initiatory step towards spending £5,000,000. That is a very serious proposition. The first question that suggests itself to anybody who is called upon to consider such a proposal is whetherthe line will pay.
It will not do anything of the kind. It will not nearly pay, nor can it possibly be hoped that it will pay, especially if the Esperance Bay railway is built, because that line would take the whole of the prospective traffic.
– No one pretends that it will pay.
– I want to examine the question quite apart from what anybody has said about it hitherto. We have a very good guide as to the prospects of the line in the condition of the present InterState lines. We have practically one continuous railway from Brisbane to Adelaide, through Sydney and Melbourne. That is just about the same distance as from Port Augusta to Perth. Everybody knows that the line from Brisbane to Adelaide through Sydney and Melbourne traverses the very best country, the most thickly settled portions, and the biggest and most important towns of Australia, and yet we know that the line, as a whole, does not pay. How, then, can it be contended that an equal length of line through the most unsettled and most sparsely populated portion of Australia, passing through no towns of any size or importance, except the gold-fields towns of the west, throughout its whole route, has any reasonable prospect of paying?
– That does not applyto the line from Melbourne to Sydney.
– I am taking the whole of the Inter-State lines as one.
– What portion of it does not pay? We know the portions that do pay.
– The portion from Sydney to Brisbane does not pay, although it goes through about the best country in the Commonwealth. By far the greater portion of it is in New South Wales, yet the New South Wales lines as. a whole pay- handsomely. The Queensland lines do not pay. That brings me to another iniquitous feature of this proposal, that we in Queensland, although we have incurred a heavy indebtedness per head of the population, higher, perhaps, than that of anv other country in the world, are to be asked, after having spent that money unproductively in our own country on railways, to hand out another large sum to help to build a railway for other people.
– Does the honorable senator argue that because railways do not pay they should not be built ?
– I contend that a number of those that have been built should not have been. It is often better to settle people along existing lines than to build new ones.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that the people of Queensland cannot afford to be just because they have been extravagant.
– If we have been extravagant it was with our own money. We backed our own opinions, and we are paying our own loss without asking anybody to share it.
– How could it be Queensland’s own money when she had to borrow it?
– If I borrowed a pound from Senator McGregor it would be mine while I had it, although I would still be under the ultimate obligation of paying it back to him on demand. The report of ‘ the State Engineers-in-Chief on this line was that there would be a loss of£68,000 per annum.
– For ten years.
– They say that after ten years the line might pay.
– On certain conditions.
– One of those conditions was that the population of Western Australia would double in ten years.
– So it will.
– It is about four years since that report was made. How much progress has Western Australia made since then towards doubling her population?
– It more than doubled in one decade.
– That was the period when all her great gold-fields were discovered. If that experience is likely to be repeated the population may double again.
– Does the honorable senator say that all the gold-fields have been discovered vet?
– It would be very hard to say. The probability is that they are not. The following appears in the report as quoted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council -
If the past progress in Western Australia is maintained, so that the present population becomes doubled in ten years after completion, the revenue may also be taken as double, namely,
The engineers base their estimate of the probable conversion of an annual loss into a profit on the supposition that the popu lation of Western Australia will double itself in ten years, but they are careful to point out that in that eventuality there would also have to be a very greatly increased expenditure on the line. Seeing that the Inter-State railway lines which I have quoted do not, as a whole, pay, although they go through the very best country in Australia, from Brisbane, through Toowomba and Warwick, and all the best portions of the Darling Downs in Queensland, than which there is no finer stretch of agricultural or pastoral land in the Commonwealth, right through the splendid New England district, and the towns of Glen Innes, Armidale, Tamworth, and other important centres on the tablelands of New South Wales, past one of the greatest cities in Australia - the great Coalopolis, Newcastle - through Sydney, with its population of about 600,000, along all that splendid country between Sydney and Melbourne, with its important towns, right through Melbourne, with another half million of population, through Ballarat and all that fine Victorian country to the South Australian border, and thence to Adelaide - allclosely settled country - how is it possible for any reasonable man to expect that this line passing through totally uninhabited country will pay?
– Roads and bridges do not pay, but we must have them.
– The honorable senator wants to have this road and this bridge at somebody else’s expense. I wish to say a word about the possibilities of the land. If there had been no report upon it, if nobody had heard a single word about it from the engineers and explorers who have gone over it, it would still have been possible for a man knowing the facts with regard to all Australia to arrive at a fairly accurate conclusion as to the value of the land and the capabilities of the country. The line will go through a stretch of country about 1,100 miles in length, and at no part will be distant more than 200 miles from the coast. We know that that stretch of country is practically uninhabited.
– There is no line in England more than 200 miles fromthe coast.
– If the honorable senator will hear me out, he will be better seized of the line of argument I am taking This country is all readily accessible from the coast at the present, time. That is none of it is more than 200 mile from the coast. I have also pointed out that every portion of the country through which the railway will pass is in that part of Australia where the climate is supposed to be most congenial to white men’s existence, and most favorable to the pursuit of white men’s occupations. It is in the southern area of the Continent, right along the sea-coast where it is of most easy access to other parts of the Continent. All those conditions are favorable. Yet what are the facts? Over that distance of 1,100 miles the country is practically uninhabited, although there is no other portion of Australia right round the coast of which the same thing can be said.
– And the very fact that the distance of 1,100 miles may be counted in three or four ways accounts for the sparsity of population.
– I am not counting it in three or four ways.
– The honorable senator could count it differently if he would be honest towards the proposal.
– If the honorable senator will tell me how I can be honest towards the proposal, I shall try to the utmost of my ability to state the case fairly ; I do not want to either overstate or understate it.
– Is- there only one sti eight line of land - is it a narrow neck?
– Order. I must ask honorable senators not to pursue a conversation with the speaker. We are getting rather too lax in that respect. I do not desire to unduly interfere with honorable senators ; but at the same time I would ask them to refrain from conversation with the speaker.
– In Australia there is no stretch of coast, for even 300 or 400 miles which is uninhabited, except the stretch of coast through which we are asked to take the initial step towards constructing a railway. Frequently we have been told by certain honorable gentlemen with political leanings that the southern portion of Australia is the only place fit for a white man ; in fact, that the northern portion is only fit for a black man. Yet there is no single portion of the Continent - not around Cape York Peninsula, the Gulf country, the Northern Territory, or even the north-west of Western Australia - within 200 miles of the coast for a stretch of 300 miles, which is uninhabited similarly to the country between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. Therefore, if we find that what is admitted to be the most unfavorable portion of Australia isuninhabited to that extent we can only conclude that its circumstances are exceptionally unfavorable towards occupation by white men or the pursuit of white men’s industries. I think there can be no twoopinions about that. If that is so, what reasonable hope can we have of picking; up traffic or inducing settlement along the route of the line? There can be little or no hope, though, of course, as some honorable senators say, we may discover a. second Mount Morgan, Kalgoorlie or Coolgardie. There is always that possibility, but it will be exceedingly foolish for the Senate to lend its countenance to a gamble of that sort. The Inter-State railway lines,, going through the great capitals, do not as a whole pay. What prospect would they have to pay at all, or of getting a. payable traffic if they were dependent on the traffic which was carried from the terminus? If they did not serve large towns and important settlements onthe route they would be practically idle, and that will be the fate of this transcontinental line if it is everconstructed, especially after the railway to Esperance Bay is completed. That is the line which is best calculated to serve the interests of the people on the gold-fields, and if it were constructed, I am confident that the traffic available for the transcontinental line would be infinitesimal. Apparently the country to be traversed is anexceedingly difficult one to open up. It is all accessible by sea. We have along that coast ports and harbors, just as we havealong the rest of the coast of Australia. It might be easily penetrated and made available for settlement so far as accessibility is concerned if there were any inducements to offer to settlers. I contend thatthe railway, if made, will not provide as cheap or easy means of access - from the economical stand-point - as does the sea. It will certainly make for a little rapidity of access, but that will be the only advantage. I can see no reasonable prospect of settlement along the proposed route, because evenSir John Forrest admits that it is absolutely waterless country. In fact he says in -the paper which has been presented to the Senate in order to induce honorable senators to vote for the Bill, that on one exploring trip he had to turn back becausethe only waterhole he found was one containing fifteen gallons of water. So I suppose that this railway may be accurately- described as the “15 gallons waterhole railway.” It is, as everybody knows, important that Australia should be in a peitition to defend herself. No one is more anxious than I am to see Australia placed in a position to be able to independently defend herself from any attack which is likely to be made. If this railway is to be built for defence; if that is the only justification which can be put forward for its construction - and I think I have effectively disposed of the other alleged argument in favour of the proposal - then I submit that the proper route has not been chosen for defence purposes. A railway line for defence purposes which could be seized at two or three points of its course by a raiding enemy .would not be a safe line of military communication. Even the veriest tyro in military science will admit that if we want to fight an enemy we must .not run undefended into his arms and allow him to embrace us.
– Can the honorable senator suggest another route?
– Undoubtedly. A route which touches the sea on two points of its course cannot serve the purposes of an adequate defence line. This line, it is suggested, is to start from Port Augusta, touch at Eucla, and proceed to Kalgoorlie.
– Is there no alternative scheme ?
– There is an alternative scheme. The furthest point that the alternative railway would be away from Eucla would .be forty miles. That is a mere flea-bite from the coast to a raiding enemy ; it could march that distance in a day and seize the line.
– Which is the route that the people of South Australia will not have?
– The people of South Australia do not say that they will not have any route, but they leave the matter entirely open, so that they may be absolutely free to reject any or every route, and hide themselves behind that subterfuge, like an impregnable fortress in which to defend their position, because Adelaide especially doer not want this particular railway. I might, perhaps, suggest a reason why Adelaide is opposed to the railway bv reading an extract from the report of the EngineersinChief
Adelaide will suffer through ceasing to be a terminus for the delivery of oversea mails, and still more so if the ultimate result should be the abandonment of Adelaide as a port of call.
That is the “ fly in the ointment “ so far as Adelaide and South Australia are concerned. They do not want this railway to be built because then Adelaide would not be the terminal point for the mails. That is also one of the reasons why Fremantle and Perth want this railway so as to insure and safeguard their position for all time. One of the reasons why they do not want a railway to Esperance Bay from Kalgoorlie is because they want everything to be dragged from the most remote portions of the State into Perth and Fremantle, rather than allow them to go to their natural ports. It is a piece of brazen audacity to ask us to lend ourselves to schemes- of that sort for the aggrandizement of individuals or individual towns. In his report, Mr. Kernot, Engineer-in-Chief for the Victorian Railways, says -
There are two routes through South Australia to be examined - one from Port Augusta via Tarcoola, passing some forty miles north of Eucla, and thence to Kalgoorlie; the other from Port Augusta through the Gawler Ranges via Fowlers Bay, and the head of the Great Australian Bight, passing about ten miles north of Eucla to Kalgoorlie.
It will be seen that even the alternative route would be only 40 miles from Eucla, and that would be an easy striking distance for a raiding enemy which might want to seize the line, and so prevent communication from the eastern States.
– In Australia, are there any railway lines which are not within 40 miles of the coast at some point?
– Yes, there are railways which, for a very long distance, are considerably over 40 miles from the coast. But those lines were not built from a defence stand-point; they were made for the purpose of opening up and developing country. As I have already pointed out,, at Port Augusta and Eucla this railway, if built, would be vulnerable to any enemy. Therefore, from that point of view, I think it must be recognised that, as a method for providing us with more effectual defence, it would not be worth anything like the money it would cost. A railway for defence purposes, should be made far enough inland to prevent any probability - in fact, any possibility - of seizure by an enemy. If this railway is to be built at all, in my opinion it should go direct from the eastern States almost across the continent to Western Australia. A great portion of a central line of that sort is already made. All that would be necessary would be to link up Cobar with Broken Hill, and run a line through the centre, or near the centre, of Australia to Kalgoorlie.
– We could not go direct without touching Port Augusta.
– Because we should go too far south.
– I am quite sure that I would not go anywhere near Port Augusta.
– But the honorable senator would leave out Adelaide.
– Of course I would, but the advocates of this proposal put forward the defence point of view, and I think I am entitled to show what is the proper line to construct if we are going to build one for that purpose. Such a railway should start from the most populous centre, and what is generally recognised as the heart, of the ‘Commonwealth, where it woul(J be most easy to concentrate a number of troops and send them across the continent. It would then best serve our purpose.
– How far’ would that line be from Eucla?
– It would be considerably north of Eucla. At any rate, it would be very easy to bend a line if necessary. From my point of view the whole case is totally indefensible, and if the Bill gets into Committee - as I hope it will not do - I shall do my level best to-
– Increase the amount.
– The surveyors will do that !
– No; I shall do my level best to insure that the line, if it is to be built, shall be of some use for defence purposes. Suppose that this proposal is carried, and that we make the survey, and start to build the line. What will it mean? It will mean that we shall have to initiate a borrowing policy straight away, unless we are prepared to exact from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth about £1,500,000 per annum in the way of fresh taxation.
– Could we not provide £20,000 without borrowing?
– The demand for’ £20,000 is a mere subterfuge. The people who are now in favour of the proposed survey intend to follow it up by a proposal to build the line. They have already tried to bind certain public men in the Commonwealth to support the construction of the line. They have even gone so far as to say that the cajoleries that passed between certain public men in reference to the question are sufficient to bind this Parliament. Sir John Forrest was candid enough to admit in another place that he looked upon the survey as the forerunner of the line ; that is to say, he looked upon this vote as a necessary step towards construction. In fact Sir John stated that if he had his way he would build the line straight away ; he would have survey and construction going on simultaneously. If, as Senator Story suggests, we are merely called upon to deal with a proposal to spend £20,000, what necessity is there for a survey at all ? Why not say that we appropriate £20,000 for exploration or prospecting? The fact is that this is the initiatory step for the building of a railway which must ultimately cost this Commonwealth , £5,000,000. That means - if the line is to be constructed in three or four years, as it ought to be if constructed at all - that we shall have to raise £1,500,000 in extra taxation if the money is to be paid out of revenue, or to initiate a Commonwealth borrowing policy. .Now I am against a borrowing policy all the time. If the railway is to be built I shall give my vote in favour of raising the money by taxation. But if we must increase the burdens of the people of this country let us do it in such a way that we shall have another half million people making a living in Australia. That would be a better defence for us than to build a railway in any part of this Commonwealth. Let us get clown to bed-rock in the matter of defence. Let us have the manhood here to defend the country. If we have not the manhood our defence must necessarily be very poor indeed. The Commonwealth would be far wiser in spending money in enabling half a million more men and women to make a prosperous living in the Commonwealth than in building a railway which would not enable a single individual to settle. It would not lessen the burden of any working man whether in Western Australia or any other part of the Commonwealth. Therefore, as a Labour member, I do not feel inclined to give it the . slightest consideration. We want no political railways. We do not want any bargaining or cajolery between prominent politicians such as have been going on in connexion with this project. We want an honest policy, which will not place a burden on any particular State, but will enable us to nourish a happy and prosperous population in Australia. If we do that we shall have nothing to fear in the matter of defence. I have opposed this Bill from the time when it was first introduced in the Senate. I shall continue to oppose it. If I am beaten I shall not be angry. But I regard the Bill as one which, so far from being beneficial to Australia as a whole, will, on the contrary, impose fresh burdens, without any compensating advantages, and will inevitably perpetrate a gross injustice upon the State which I represent
– I have no desire to detain the Senate at length in respect of the Bill now before us. I think that the abject poverty of the arguments adduced by the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat proves conclusively that the measure has been so thoroughly discussed that there is no necessity to debate it again at great length.
– And a good deal manoeuvred.
– Yes; there has been a good deal of manoeuvring in connexion with it - some of it of a questionable character.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– I fancy that most honorable senators are satisfied with having said their say in connexion with the Bill, and are inclined to think that to talk about it any more would merely be talking for tal king’s sake.
– Why does the honorable senator condemn himself so utterly ?
– I cannot help condemning myself, because other senators are, as it were, taking the bull by the horns and endeavouring to raise some kind of enthusiasm about the question. But the only way in which they can enthuse is by adducing something utterly ^foreign to the subject. Senator Givens has given us a doublebarrelled reason why the survey should be gone on with. Throughout the whole of his speech he emphasized the idea that the making of the survey meant the building of the railway between some point in South Australia and some other point in Western Australia.
– The honorable senator wants the railway.
– I want the railway, and leave no one in any doubt about it.
– Then why crawl round the subject ?
– I never crawl. I have not learnt the art of crawling, and do not think that I shall learn it in the Senate.
– The honorable senator is crawling about this question.
– I am doing nothing of the sort. I have been straightforward in connexion with the matter, and intend to continue the honest course that I have assumed from the inception. If I understand the question at all, in voting for this Bill I am not voting for any proposal connected with the cost of the line, but am taking a step towards the completion of the Federation of Australia. It is a ste£ towards the complete upbuilding of that national life to which so many eloquent references were made during the earlier years of the movement for Federation.
– Will it be necessary to construct a railway to Tasmania in order to complete our national life?
– It will be necessary to construct a railway to Western Australia before the Federation of this country can be completed, and before this Parliament can honestly say that it has carried out what has always been the demand of the people of Western Australia, namely, that they shall be made, in common with the people of the rest of Australia, people of one sentiment and one destiny. Where is the one sentiment now ? Where is the one destiny ? The destiny depends upon a sugar bounty in one case, and probably it will depend on some other kind of bounty in another ! But there remains the fact that Western Australia has materially suffered in her industrial possibilities from Federation. She undoubtedly had a great struggle against the cords that have been tied round her by the Commonwealth ; and unless the Federation is prepared to carry out its compact with Western Australia-
– What compact?
– The compact that the people of Australia should be made one people.
– Who made it?
– It was made by men who were not narrowed down into one little groove, nor whose vision was restricted to the interest of a tinkering sugar plantation, or something of that kind.
It was made by men who were able to review the needs of the -whole of this vast continent.. They were the people who pointed out the strong possibility of this line being constructed at an early date. In my opinion, Senator Givens has treated the subject very unfairly. It has been generally admitted that the line must be built sooner or Liter. I say that it had better be built sooner than later. What is our position? To the Senator Givens type of man - to the man who has never seen Western Australia, except from the window of a railway train or the top story of an hotel - the talk about the “desert” lands of the west is full of meaning. Such opponents of the Bill copy the phrases used by the Victorian newspapers, and I suppose tell the Queensland people that Western Australia between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta is simply a huge desert unfit for men to live in.
– Well, what is it?
– If those honorable senators are so positive about the nature of the country, let the survey be made, and let us have proof that the country between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie is a- desert. Then will be the time to argue against the construction of a line over desert country.
– As to that statement, does not the obligation to prove the contrary rest upon Western Australia?
– No ; my conviction is, and always has been, that the obligation rests upon the Commonwealth. That is the reason for the attitude assumed by honorable senators from Western Australia. I have some idea of the feelings of the people of that State. I read everything that was to be read on the subject of Federation at the time it was proposed. I listened to the public men who came from South Australia, and other parts of the Commonwealth to Western Australia to advocate Federation. I have already said that I opposed Federation, and did’ all I possibly could by voice and vote to prevent it. I did that conscientiously believing that Western Australia would, if ‘she entered the Federation, tie herself up, and be at the mercy of the eastern States, and that, so far as her industrial life was concerned, she would, for a great number of years, have to give up all hope of expansion. I raised those arguments and believed them at the time, and I have lived to see that many of them have been justified by the actual facts as they exist to-day. I say that the promise of the linking of Western Australia with the eastern States by a railway, whether implied or direct, was used with great power in Western Australia, and exerted a mighty influence in bringing the people of that State to the conclusion at which they arrived at the referendum on the Commonwealth Bill. No man whether he be in favour or opposed to Federation, need fear for a moment to make that statement. We are asking by this Bill that £20,000 - and I should not care if the amount were £50,000 - should be spent for the purpose practically of proving the country between the two points mentioned. Then, if it is shown that Western Australia is not the country it is represented to be, honorable senators will be entitled to take whatever course they please. Sir John Forrest, in his precis, refers to one patch of country comprising 13.000,000 acres of excellently grassed land.
– If there is such an extent of grazing country, how is that in their estimate of revenue, the experts who reported on the matter assumed that all the cattle to supply Kalgoorlie would travel over the proposed railway from the eastern States ?
– - Because those railway experts were in precisely the’ same position as the honorable senator, they did not know anything about it. We have an honest right to ask that this great unknown country shall be proved, and if it be proved conclusively that it is the barren desert of the Queensland imagination-
– What Queenslander ever said that?
– Or is the barren desert of the Victorian conception, it will be time then for those who are opposed to the proposal to argue that the line should not be built.
– Would the honorable senator then cease to ask for the railway?
– 1 shall never cease to ask for the railway so long as I represent Western Australia.
– Whether the country is a desert or not ? .
– Convinced as I am of the influence exerted by the promise made in connexion with this matter, I should consider myself a traitor to Western Australia, if, for a moment, I relaxed my efforts for the accomplishment of the desire of the people of that State.
– I consider the honorable senator a disregarder of the facts when he argues like that.
– Senator Dobson has no right to say that. The facts have been so clearly and carefully stated, even within the Hansard records of this Parliament, that no one has a right to make such a statement at the present ‘time. Senator Givens, in answer to Senator Story, made some answer to the effect that whilst roads and bridges were not considered as productive works, this was a roads and bridges proposition that was being submitted by people who desired that others should nay for it. I was under the impression that in this Commonwealth we were influenced by some sentiment of nationhood, and that what would benefit any part of Australia in the matter of railway communication and the opening up of the country would be considered as benefiting the whole Commonwealth. If we are to have a Commonwealth of six States, without any community of interests, the sooner that is made ‘ known the tetter by our candidly declaring ourselves hypocritical federationists, and admitting that from the beginning we were mere “ boodlers “ and “ boosters,” who were endeavouring to carry out a scheme by which some of the big States would be enabled to skin the little ones. If that is the idea of nationhood possessed by some honorable senators, I can only deplore it. I desire a Federation of Australia based upon very much higher motives, and I wish Western Australia to obtain that share of advantage from the Federation which I think she deserves, and which she was given to understand would be hers when she entered into the compact of Federation.
– The honorable senator can feel for the people of New South Wales.
– I can feel for the interests of every State in the Commonwealth. No one is more ready than I to. carry out the compact made with. New South Wales. When the representatives of that State in this Parliament assure me that they have themselves decided upon what they desire, I shall take very seriously into consideration the attitude I have assumed, in the matter referred to. from the beginning.
– That is a very statesmanlike utterance. It is very guarded.
– It is a proper utterance, and a proper attitude to take up.
– I ask the honorable senator not to allow himself to be sidetracked. The question of the selection of the Federal Capital Site in New South Wales has really nothing whatever to do with the question at present before the Senate.
– I wish to say that on the matter referred to there is no difference of opinion in Western Australia, and no feeling of localism in connexion with it. The people of that State are one in their aspirations and desires. They believe that, in connexion with it, there was an implied promise, if no more; they admit its influence in bringing about the result achieved by the referendum on the Commonwealth Bill, and they are willing that that compact should be carried out as fully as any other embodied in the Constitution.
– When speaking a few weeks ago on the Address-in-Reply, I expressed the hope that the Government would introduce a Bill for the survey of the route of a trans-Australian line at an early period of the session, so that honorable senators might have an opportunity to discuss it in all its bearings. I am very glad that that opportunity has been given, and that the Bill is now before us. I expected that after the very eloquent address delivered by Senator Givens, some other honorable senator who shared his opinion would have been prepared to carry on the debate.
– But the honorable senator was too impetuous. There was another honorable senator ready to speak.
– If I was too impetuous, the honorable senator who was ready to speak must have been very slow, because the President was on his feet and about to put the question. No one can deny that the question which we are now debating is of the utmost importance, not only to Western Australia, but to the people of the Commonwealth generally. It is only natural that representatives of the western State in the Senate should feel somewhat anxious about it, and desire to place their views before the Senate. On this occasion I intend to be brief, because I know that in previous Parliaments the pros, and cons, of the matter have been somewhat comprehensively discussed. But there are now in this Chamber new senators, who may not have heard the arguments of their predecessors, and in order that they may be able to give an intelligent vote, I think it wise that those who support the Bill should submit arguments in favour of the proposed survey. I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of Senator Givens, which was composed for the most part of “ ifs” and “ans.”
– And “buts.”
– Yes, and “ buts.” There was nothing concrete in it. The honorable senator, in no part of his speech, confined himself to the survey. He spoke entirely of the construction of* the line.
– The honorable senator does not want the railway either, I suppose?
– Why does not the honorable senator say out boldly, as Sir John Forrest has done, that the proposed survey is merely the forerunner of the construction of the line?
– We could respect the honorable senator if he did.
– I am not worrying about the respect of some of the honorable senators who have interjected. I can get along very well with or without it. So far as the survey is concerned,no honorable senator who supports it will thereby commit himself to vote for the construction of the railway. I think that is an honest statement. We simply desire to prove to the people of the Commonwealth that the country through which it is proposed that the line shall pass is not a desert. . There seems, also, to be a feeling among certain journalists, and also, I believe, certain honorable senators, that Western Australia itself is a desert. Men who hold that opinion have never seen the State, or, if they have, have only had a cursory glance at the country. Now that Australians are all one people with one destiny, the people of Western Australia are simply asking for justice. We ‘ look for a practical demonstration of the true Federal sentiment. I might remind honorable senators from Queensland, who have so strenuously opposed this survey right throughout, and who say it is not right to call upon other States to pay any part of the cost of it, that, had it not been for Federation, the sugar industry in Queensland would not be in- its present flourishing condition. It is a bounty-fed industry, and, had it not been for Federation, I can safely say, without fear of contradiction, that it would not have been able to compete immediately after 1901 in the markets of the world. Western Aus tralia contributed her share to the preservation of that industry which amounted to £18,000 in 1906. That sum is almost equal to the amount the Senate is now asked to vote for this survey.
– What has that to do with the survey ?
– A great deal. Honorable senators from Queensland, when they advance that kind of argument, and say that if Western Australia is desirous of having the survey, she ought to pay for it herself, know perfectly well that if Western Australia did make it, the very next argument would be that the survey was a biased one. We want an independent survey.
– The honorable senator admits that the survey is the preliminary stage to the building of a railway to follow.
– I admit that we are desirous of proving to the people of Australia that it will not be a “desert railway.” Senators Givens has referred to thequestion of defence, urging that the route of the proposed line would make it useless for defence purposes, because it is so short a distance from the coast. One would’ gather from that argument that we were not going to have any coastal defence at all, either in the shape of battleships, submarines, or torpedo destroyers. Once the forts at our principal ports are silenced, it will not matter, so far as defence is concerned, whether the railway is forty or a hundred miles from the coastline, because the invading army the honorable senator referred to will “ get there all the same.” Considered from the standpoints of defence, postal service, or commerce, either singly or collectively, this railway, or the- survey of it, is necessary.. As Senator Henderson has already stated,, it was generally understood in WesternAustralia that if that State joined the Federation, justice would be done to her in reference to the railway. Even allowing for a moment that that was not the motive actuating the people of Western Australia in casting their votes for Federation, no honorable senator will deny that one of the Federal ideals was that every State would be able to send its produce to, and have a share in the benefits of, the markets of Australia. Under present conditions,. Western Australia is debarred from participation in those benefits. We are in a position of isolation that is altogether too splendid., There are only two means of egress from, or ingress to, our State - steam-ship or balloon. The steam-ship is not always an enviable means of transport, and the balloon is not yet a system perfect enough to use. I have always been a Federalist, and, reviewing the period from 1901 to the present day, I believe that great things have been done in this young nation. The Federal machine hai done a great deal of good work. We are on the straight path to nationhood, but the benefits of Federation have not been equally enjoyed by all the States, and no State has more reason to complain in that regard than Western Australia. So far as Queensland is concerned, the steam-ship service to Papua, for which Australia pays a certain amount, Western Australia contributing her portion, is of direct benefit to Queensland and New South Wales.
– What about the Wyndham service?
– Western Australia is paying the subsidy for that service herself, and also for the service on the western portion of her coast. I think that is an effective answer to Senator Chataway’s interjection. Australia pays ,£200,000 a year as a subsidy for the British Fleet in Australian waters. Sydney is practically its head-quarters. Occasionally it is found at Hobart and Melbourne, but I do not think it has ever been seen in Western Australian waters, although we have had an occasional warship there. Consequently, the other States again get the benefit of the money spent in the maintenance and provisioning of that fleet. I want it to be clearly understood that I am not complaining personally in this respect. I am simply following the same line of argument as those honorable senators who oppose this survey for the one reason that the other States will be called upon to pay their share of the ^20,000. Let me refer again to our contribution to the bounty paid to the Queensland sugar planters. I may be told that the reason for endeavouring to preserve the sugar industry is the desire to maintain a White Australia. I agree with that policy. When this survey is made, I am confident that we shall be able to prove that it is also in the interests of a White Australia that the line should be built, because the reports of the engineers who have surveyed the country show that there are millions of acres of fertile land there which can be inhabited by white people. We can only have a White Australia by settling white people on the portions of our territory that are at present uninhabited. The natural resources of the country through which this line will pass will give every opportunity to the Government of this young nation to provide means whereby a white population can be settled on the soil, and so add to the prosperity of the Commonwealth. I freely admit that the reports submitted to honorable senators show that there is a shortage of water.
– Is that what the honorable senator calls it? There is no water there for hundreds of miles.
– If Senator Dobson will read the reports again he will find that within a reasonable distance from the proposed route of the railway a quantity of something like 15,000,000 gallons of water was found. The honorable senator will find, from the report presented to the Western Australian Government by Mr. John Muir, that there is a vast stretch of country between Kalgoorlie and the South Australian border which is excellently grassed and well timbered. If timber and pasture of that sort exists there, there must be water, and there is also a rainfall in that country-
– The grass there was 12 inches high. At Port Darwin it is 12 feet high.
– The honorable senator need not refer to Port Darwin. He was in the Northern Territory just about long enough to enable him to ascertain the time from a person’s watch, and on his return he constitutes himself an authority on the country with about just as much reason and accuracy as he constitutes himself an authority on this proposal to construct a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.
– Did not the honorable senator see grass 12 feet high?
– He spent most of his time in chasing buffaloes.
-The honorable senator spent most of his time in thf> Northern Territory in chasing buffaloes, or being chased by them.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to pursue that topic.
– I would ask honorable senators to make sensible interjections. It has also been proved by the reports that this is an excellent country for grazing. With all these facts before us, are we going to reject the evidence given by reputable men, to ignore the fact that successive Governments have introduced this measure, and that on three occasions it has been passed by a substantial majority in another place? Are we to believe that the vote which was given here was representative of the feeling of the people of Australia?
– I hold that the people of Australia are in favour of this Parliament giving to Western Australia a chance to prove the necessity and the practicability of this railway.
– At their own expense.
– I am quite prepared to ask Western Australia to . make the survey of this line at her own expense, if every other State will undertake to meet its liabilities at its own expense.
– We have done it.
– Western Australia has also done it. In many instances she is doing it to-day, and at the same time she is contributing largely, as I have mentioned, to the assistance of other States. If this parochial spirit is going to pervade all our actions, then I submit that there is no Federation; let it be abolished at once. I shall certainly advocate that Western Australia should defray the cost of this survey if she will be freed from her contribution to the support and preservation of certain industries in the Commonwealth. I do not think it is necessary to detain the Senate at greater length, because I recognise that if the question were discussed for a week no further light would be thrown on it. We are not asking the Senate to pass a vote for the construction of the railway, but merely to authorize the expenditure of £20,000 for the survey of a route. A great deal of stress has been laid on the fact that the consent of South Australia has not been obtained. Perhaps Senator Givens, constitutional lawyer though he thinks himself to be, is not aware that if, in its wisdom, this Parliament held that the safety of Australia demanded that this line should be surveyed or constructed, there would be 110 necessity to obtain the consent of any State. That, however, is beside the question just now. I merely refer to it in order to let previous speakers know that the Commonwealth has the power to construct any railway if the safety of Australia should demand its construction. I have not the slightest doubt of the consent of South Australia being given. During the recess I took the opportunity of travelling through many of the States, and coming into contact with their people, and from personal experience I can say that if the Senate should carry the second reading of the Bill, the news will be welcomed by the people in every State. I hope that not only will the Senate carry the second reading of the Bill, but will pass it through all its stages, and that on this occasion we shall be able to send cheering information to the far distant State of Western Australia that we, the representatives of this young nation, are determined to give its Government and its people a. chance to prove their bona fides in this matter, that the true Federal sentiment pervades our action, and that Federation is no phantom, but a reality. If we do that, then I think that we shall have done something to cement the bonds of true unity between the States of the Commonwealth.
.- I shall be heartily glad when this irritating subject appears no longer before the Senate, and when my honorable friends opposite have wrung £20,000 most improperly and unfairly from the States of the Commonwealth to spend on the construction of a railway in a waterless desert. In reply to what Senator Needham has said, and also in reply to some statements which Sir John Forrest has recently published, let us see what the latter said before he had the temptation of a railway before him -
It is a marvel to me how we got through at ill. . . . The country is most wretched When the sterility of the country is considered it will be readily seen what a disadvantage one labours under without camels. . . . It is 140 miles to the nearest Adelaide station. Not a drop of water. Country to the south seemed most uninviting. Near to Eucla sand hills as far as could be seen, covered with spinifex. A spinifex desert - spinifex everywhere.
He went on to mention what the party had for tea. That quotation is taken from an article by a gentleman who writes under the name of “ Geographer,” and who says that the country there described is on the route of the proposed railway. Tn submitting the Bill, the Vice-President of the Executive Council made the best of a bad case. One half of his argument did not advance his case a single step, and the other half completely damned it. Why did my honorable friend, astute lawyer as he is, give to the Senate those wonderful figures which, I suppose, Sir John Forrest stuffed into his hand at the last moment to make it thoroughly understood that Western Australia is about the richest State in the Commonwealth? We were asked to dwell on her marvellous territory of 625,000,000 acres, and to think of her wonderful gold mines. We were reminded that her annual output of gold was valued at ^8,305,652. We were told of the marvellous return from the railways of Western Australia, and here I would ask Senator Walker and Senator Gray, who, 1 believe, intend to vote for the Bill, to ponder a little. It appears that two or three years ago - these are the latest statistics which I have seen - her railways returned £280,000 over and above the interest and working expenses. Compare that return with the losses of the other States. For the three years ending 1905, the total deficit in New South Wales was ^768,000, in Victoria ,£364,000, and in Queensland £.1,164,000. No wonder that my honorable friends cannot convert the senators from Queensland.
– Let us know about the results in Tasmania.
– I am coming to Tasmania presently. Is it any wonder that my honorable friends cannot induce the senators from Queensland to see anything but gross wrong and injustice in this proposal when Western Australia, with her railways paying so handsomely, asks the poorer States to help her to build a transcontinental railway ? For the two yeaTs ending 1904, the loss on the working of Tasmania’s railways was ,£262,000, while last year it amounted to ,£80,000. A few days ago, I asked the Statistician by telegram to let me know what the total loss on the Tasmanian railways has been, and his reply is that it amounts to
– It will never be any different until Tasmania gets a Labour Government.
– A Labour Government ! My honorable friend makes an irrelevant interjection because by any remark which is relevant he cannot answer the argument. Tasmania is small and is sparsely populated. Yet she has defrayed the cost of her surveys and her railways. In railway construction she has been self-reliant. Where is the justice or the fair play in asking that State to assist to make 625 miles of railway for South Australia and 475 miles of railway for therich State of Western Australia? Talk about fairness and justice ! In my opinion a more impudent demand than this was. never placed before a legislative body. When I go into early history, what do I find ? I find that . it has taken three Prime Ministers, and no end of, asSenator Best said, “political whirligigs,” to bring this proposal up to its present position. I find that in the early days, Sir John Forrest commenced by suggesting that South Australia and Western Australia should build this transcontinental railway, and in making that suggestion he was quite consistent with the attitude he took up in the Federal Convention. I am sorry that Senator Henderson has left the chamber, because otherwise I would justify my statement that, in arguing this matter, he seemed to have an absolute disregard of the facts. On the proposal to empower the Parliament of the Commonwealth to legislate in respect of -
Railway construction and extension in anyState with the consent of that State -
Sir John Forrest addressed the Convention: in the following words -
I can only say that we have built our railwaysup to within 400 miles of our boundary, and weshall be quite able to build other lines for ourselves when we can agree with our friends tojoin us on the border.
What can be plainer than that? Have we not a right to say that Sir John Forrest is exercising his great power and influence in the Commonwealth to secure for his own State that which he told us at the Convention that State did not ask for?
– When was that?
– At the Convention in 1898. I am glad that Senator Gray has seized the point. Some honorable senators opposite seem to be unable to seize any point except that there was an implied condition of Federation that the railway should be built. Now, any senator who makes such a statement is absolutely flying in the face of the facts. When Sir John Forrest found that he was getting on admirably with his railway scheme - first inducing one Prime Minister to conduct the correspondence, and then seizing upon the next Prime Minister to continue it - he thought that he would clinch the matter with regard to the survey by telling every one what they all knew, that voting for the Survey Bill did not commit them to the construction of the railway. But afterwards he tried to make people believe that those who once voted for the survey would be committed to the construction of the railway. Here are the words he used when he found that by his little tricks and his powerful influence he was getting what he wanted -
I do not consider that we should incur expenditure merely for the sake of making people believe that we are going to do something in this direction unless we really intend to do so. I am not in favour of making surveys for any proposed railway unless the project is entered upon in a bond fide way, and unless those who ire prepared to support the necessary expenditure are ready to follow up their action in this respect by supporting the construction of the line-
– That was merely his view.
– But for Sir John Forrest’s influence and ministerial position, and but for the position which he holds in regard to Western Australia, we should never have seen this Bill. Those are the words of my right honorable friend, who is determined to get this railway by fair means if he can, but, any way, to get it. He commenced by being honest and consistent in his utterances at the Convention. We all. know the reason why the words in the Constitution with reference to railway construction and extension were inserted. They were inserted for defence purposes, and no one ever dreamt that three years after Federation was established they would be used for the purpose of inducing the Commonwealth to build 625 miles of railway for the benefit of South Australia and 475 for the benefit of Western Australia. Sir John Forrest commenced in 1889 by asking South Australia to join Western Australia in constructing this railway. But South Australia, not being the rich State that Western Australia is, said that she could not see her way to do it, that her ordinary expenditure was very large, and that she preferred that the Federal Government should undertake the work. Well, I suppose there is not an honorable senator who would not prefer that another man should pay his debts and undertake his liabilities.
– We are not asking any one to pay our debts.
– Not only Sir John Forrest, but Mr. - now Sir Walter - James, the next Premier of Western Australia, did the same thing. Sir Walter James worked himself up into a belief in the railway to such an extent - and it is astonishing what one can do in working one’s self up into a belief in anything ! - that he absolutely suggested to the South Australian Government that they should join with Western Australia in building the line. He said -
The construction of the line by the Federal Government may not be within immediate reach of realization, but the passage of the Enabling Bill will confer authority on the Federal Parliament to carry out this work, and, before that step is taken, we desire to suggest that your Government should consider the question of joining with us in constructing a line which so vitally affects our two States, and which will, when once constructed, affect us more vitally still. We in this State are confident that as the country to the east of Kalgoorlie becomes more closely prospected, it will prove the eastward extension of our gold-fields, and thus create a closer connexion between South Australia and Western Australia.
Towards the end of his letter he went on to say -
I submit this question for consideration, being convinced that South Australia has as great an interest in the work as Western Australia, and is likely to reap a more substantial profit from its construction than the latter State. Our main desire is to break down the isolation which surrounds us. 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 gold-fields.
There were those two Premiers of Western Australia, notwithstanding all the subsequent talk about implied promises, and all the electoral nonsense and hypocrisy, suggesting to their neighbour State that it should be a joint line. Sir Walter James, prophesying that it would be a long time before the Federal Government would undertake the work, held out the bait to South Australia that the line would give that State access to the richest markets in the Commonwealth. Well, the markets of the gold-fields are the richest in the Commonwealth, and this line, when built, would lead to the richest State in the Commonwealth.
– That is what we want.
– That is what Western Australia wants, but she unfairly wants it at the expense of other people.
– My honorable friend would deny that the chandeliers are shining if it suited his argument. T give him up as hopeless. I do not desire to gainsay the ruling which you, sir, gave on Friday, but in view of the fact that South Australia has not, in accordance with the
Constitution, given her consent to this railway, or to the survey being made, I desire to read to the Senate what the present Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin, thought about that matter. It is the view that I have , always taken and always shall take, that before this Bill can be considered the consent of South Australia by Act of Parliament - not by letters or telegrams - must be obtained. Mr. Deakin wrote to the Premier of South Australia -
To make a complete survey might cost £20,000, and before asking the Commonwealth Parliament to approve of this expenditure, it is only reasonable that the consent necessary under sub-section 34 of section 51 of the Constitution should be obtained.
Yet my right honorable friend, Sir John Forrest, in trying to push this project ahead, endeavours to make out that that requirement of the Constitution is not necessary, and that the consent of South Australia need not be obtained. That consent has not been, and cannot be, obtained. A more indefensible thing was never done by any Government in the British dominions than that of proceeding with a measure like this without the consent of the State which the Constitution says is necessary. I have by me a number of quotations from various pamphlets which have been showered upon us with reference to this proposal. I shall not quote from them at length. But the fact stands out that South Australia is doubtful as to whether she will give her consent unless she gets the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge that she wants, and the route which she prefers. In the correspondence is a. declaration by South Australia that she will not consent to the construction of the railway until she is satisfied about the gauge and the route.
– The honorable senator will find in the correspondence an unqualified consent to the survey on the part of South Australia, and trie survey is the only matter that is before us.
– My honorable friend must think that he is talking to a party of babies ! Consent to the survey ! Of course South Australia consents to the survey. Would my honorable friend consent if I offered him ,£20,000? But if I laid down the condition that he should give me £[40,000 next week I do not suppose that he would take the offer. Naturally South Australia consents to the survey, but at the same time she insists upon having control of, and a voice in, the determina tion of the route and the gauge. We may spend our £[20,000, but we cannot go further without the consent of South Australia. It may be said that Tasmania’s share of that sum is under £[1,000 - about £[900 to be correct. But if we spend this money it will be absolutely pitched away. The survey may result in proving that the country is better than some of us suppose, and that the prospects of the railway are brighter than we think. But if South Australia does not get her own way in the matter of the route and the gauge, she will simply shrug her shoulders and say, “ Well, you have spent your £[20,000 with’ your eyes open, knowing that we insist on having the route and the gauge determined to suit us. We shall not agree to your going any f further unless our wishes are met in those respects.” Can I sit silent and see the citizens of my State exploited even to the extent of £[900 on a proposal of this sort?
– If it were £1,000 the honorable senator would head a revolution, I think !
– I wish to point out that in order to give effect to the implied promise of which we hear so much, there is a way to meet my honorable friends from Western Australia. But I am so absolutely disgusted with their repeating time after time that there is an implied promise, that I am almost loath to point out the way. Here is an Act which Western Australia has put upon her statute-book, and which makes no reference to an implied promise. I will quote from it in order that honorable senators may see the position in which the Federal Parliament is placed owing to statements - I will not say untruthful statements - but statements which are absolutely contrary to the fact. Senator Henderson based the whole of his case upon this point. He said that he knew as a fact that the feeling in Western Australia and in the Commonwealth generally was that Western Australia on entering the Federation would get this railway. But there is absolutely nothing in the point. I cannot find language to express what I feel about such a statement as that. This railway was never mentioned by Sir John Forrest, or bv any one of the representatives of Australia during the whole of the three sessions of the Convention. The idea of Western Aus- tralia wanting anything was never mentioned when the words about railway construction were put in the Constitution.
– What did Sir Frederick Holder, Sir Josiah Symon, Mr. Deakin, and Mr. Kingston promise?
– They were nobodies.
– They were public men, and leading advocates of Federation.
- Senator de Largie asks me what was said by certain leading Federalists who were hospitably treated, and probably feted in Western Australia. Perhaps they gave expression at the conclusion of some banquet to a belief that Federation would sooner or later bring about the construction of a railway connecting the east with the west ; but what right have my honorable friends to talk of that as an implied promise?
– Sir Frederick Holder was never in Western Australia.
– What right have thev to use that as an argument? It is most mi alr to argue in that way, and I go so far as to say that I think it is insufferable cant. Advocates of this proposal have used that argument again and again, and have thrown it at the heads of those who are opposed to the construction of the railway as showing that they are un-Federal, local and provincial; that thev are not treating the p.,0;le of Western Australia fairly in not giving effect to the views expressed in these after-dinner speeches by Senator Symon and other people. What makes me speak so strongly and so earnestly on the point is that I find in the Western Australian Act a most improper recital to which T direct the attention of the VicePrescient of the Executive Council. If the Goernment, of which the honorable senator is a member, had a particle of respect for themselves, thev would not have submitted this Bill until the Act to which T refer was removed from the statute-book of Western Australia. This is the Act in which the Vice-President of the Executive Council informs us Western Australia has shown her bona fides in the matter, and this is the way in which it is shown -
And whereas on the faith of the early construction of a railway -
Can Senator de Largie, with all his imagination. consider a speech bv Senator Symon or any one else after a banquet as a faithful promise? This is the preamble to the Western Australian Act -
And whereas on the faith of the early con- struction of a railway to connect the- western and eastern portions of the Commonwealth, by means whereof they could enjoy the full benefits of such union the people of Western Australia did agree to the said Constitution, and to form part of the Commonwealth : And whereas, to enable the Parliament of the Commonwealth to execute and maintain those essential provisions of the Constitution which were intended to confirm the people of this portion of the Commonwealth in that assurance of protection and defence, and the advantages of postal and commercial intercourse, and of freedom of trade by land and by sea, which are enjoyed by members of the Commonwealth elsewhere, it is desirable to authorize such Parliament to construct a rail”way as aforesaid.
I think that the Western Australian Parliament, in adopting such a preamble, has treated the Commonwealth unfairly and unjustly. Those who drew it up, as well as those who passed it, knew that the words used were objectionable. They knew that Western Australia had not entered into Federation on the faith of any promise that the railway referred to would be constructed bv the Federal Government. It is true that they had every reason to believe that Federation would help it along. I have frequently said that the construction of the proposed line is first of all a. matter for the States concerned, as they would benefit enormously by it. Western Australia would derive untold benefit and riches from the line. I admit that to some extent it is a Federal matter, and, to that extent, in view, of the need of defence, and because the Commonwealth might once in a half-a-century require to use the line for military purposes, I should be perfectly willing to assent to the Commonwealth giving a subsidy in connexion with its construction. I have placed myself in no attitude of unjust opposition to Western Australia. I have always said that we should treat this matter as one in which the Commonwealth is interested, but that it is primarily a State matter. If we were to construct this line, we should be expected to expend -£5.000,000 on its construction, whilst the two States particularly interested would reap the entire benefit. The whole of the wages paid would go to the people of those States. The material required would pass through them, and their railways would get the benefit of that traffic. The better the land opened up, the more it would be settled by their citizens and farmers and taxpayers.
– They would be citizens of the Commonwealth at the same time.
– The railway would enable them te supply the markets with everything they could produce, and in every possible way the two States concerned would be benefited far and away beyond any possible benefit which the Commonwealth would receive from the construction of the line.
– Then its construction would do some good after all ?
– Of course it would. We cannot build 1,100 miles of railway and spend £[5,000,000 without doing some good. I point out that there is a way in which we might meet Western Australia in the matter, and that is by giving the people of that State a liberal mail subsidy, an-.l a subsidy in addition on account of whatever advantages would accrue to the Commonwealth from the construction of the line. If, for instance, the railway were to cost £[5,000,000, the Federal Government might consent to pay interest on £[1,000,000 of the amount. That would amount to £[30,000 or £[35,000, and we might give a mail subsidy in addition. Would that be an unfair proposal ? Would it not be considering the undertaking as both a State and a Federal matter? I should be wanting in common sense were I to pretend for one moment that the benefits that would accrue to the States of Western Australia and South Australia from the construction of the proposed railway would not outweigh the indirect benefit to the Commonwealth. From the first the attempt to make this a Federal matter has been a great mistake. It is most unfair to the other States, who have paid for their own railway construction. I do not believe that for the next twenty-five years our railways in Tasmania will pay the whole of the interest on the cost of their construction. We have constructed only 437 miles of railway, and we are here being asked to build 475 miles for one State and 625 miles for another. Is there any fairness about that ? If honorable senators will look at the debates of the Convention, they will find that the one idea in giving the Commonwealth the power to construct rn]ways was that it might be necessary for purposes of defence that railways should be constructed here and there. But to relieve Western Australia and South Australia of their obligation to construct their own railways, to make exceptions of those States, ar.el make the other States of the Commonwealth, whose railways do not pay, contribute to the construction of a railway in Western Australia, where the States rail ways are returning a surplus revenue of over £[280,000 a year, is monstrous. I feel’ very indignant that, ‘because I honestly and firmly oppose the proposed line, and give my reasons for doing so, I should be accused of failing to display a Federal spirit, and of being untrue to the real principle of Ff deration. If we are to go on in this way, there may be no end to these demand.? upon the Federal Treasury. If the people of any State require the construction of a verylarge public work, and cannot undertake it themselves, all they will have to do wil be to start the cry that it is unfederal for the Commonwealth to refuse to undertake the work and carry it through. When I visited that historic place, Port Darwin, it struck me that from a defence point of view the construction of this railway is not nearly so important a matter as the connexion by rail of Port Darwin with some of the settled districts of the Commonwealth. I say without fear of contradiction that if we asked, as I think we should, a committee of naval and military experts for their opinion on the matter, they would tell us that the transcontinental railway which should be first built is not that to which this Bill refers, but a line to connect Port Darwin, which is a more important place, with some of the settled districts and the trunk lines of Australia. The one argument which the advocates of the Western Australian line can urge is that it is required for purposes of defence. But I find that in the last paragraph of his report on the subject Major-General J. Bevan- Ed wards says most distinctly that for purposes of defence the railway would be of very little use for some years to come, simply because we have not an army to transport.
– That is an argument against the administration of the Defence Department, and not against the construction of the railway. The honorable senator is hard set when he is reduced to making use of such an argument.
– The honorable senator must be aware that Major-General Hutton also reported that as yet we have no army to transport.
– That is not an argument against the construction of the railway .
– Major-General J. Bevan-Edwards speaks in his report of railways to Port Darwin and other transcontinental railways, mentioning first the former. So that even on the question of defence, the Commonwealth is only very indirectly interested in this matter. It must be admitted that, for the next fifteen years, we are not likely to be faced with any difficulties of defence. Germany, with all the progress she is making, is not likely to reach the standard of Great Britain during that time. We can anticipate no very great disturbance, and there is, therefore, no hurry for any of these railways. But there is an urgent necessity for inquiring most fully and completely into the requirements of every part of Australia, and for getting naval and military experts to tell us which is the transcontinental railway which should be first built. I intended moving in this matter, but I find that my honorable friend, Senator Mulcahy, has given notice of an amendment, which I think should receive the careful attention and thought of every member of the Senate. The proposed agreement for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth should certainly be considered in connexion with this question. If we are bound to take over the Northern Territory merely for purposes of defence, and to populate the North ns President Roosevelt has advised us to do, it would be a fatal mistake if, led by the representatives of Western Australia, we were in the meantime to commit ourselves to the building of a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, if there is another line which ought to be built first. I hope that the proposed survey of this line will show that the country is better than we think it is. I have a number of quotations which show that it is merely a miserable waterless desert, but I hope it will be found to be better than we at present suppose. I hope that mineral deposits will be discovered on the route, although I notice that Sir John Forrest, in his diary, stated that such deposits were likely to be found on lv at about 150 miles east of Kalgoorlie/
– Kalgoorlie was not discovered when that was written.
– Sir John Forrest walked over the cold-fields when he was exploring the country .
– I hope that the results of the survey will be much brighter than we have at present any reason to expect. I hope that they will show good grounds for the construction of the line. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see the west brought into closer touch with the east. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to help forward any work to give effect to the true spirit of Federation.
– Then there is hope for the honorable senator yet.
– But I think there is a right and a wrong way of doing it. I have pointed out what I believe to be the right way, and I regret to find that in this Bill the Government propose to take the wrong way.
– Let the honorable senator be as good as his word, and for once in his life give a Federal vote.
– I. am reminded of something which was said by an ex-Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Daglish, when airing his eloquence before some of the electors of that State.
– He is a man after the honorable senator’s own heart.
– He insisted that this should be made a Federal matter, and that all the States should shoulder the obligation of constructing the railway. He held that Federation would be a sham and a farce without it, and he went on in the same breath to say that he would have nothing to do with the pooling of revenue, and nothing to do with the -per capita system; the Western Australian revenue was too great in comparison with that of the other States for that. What he desired was a true Federation with regard to the transcontinental railway, and a sham Federation with regard to Commonwealth revenue and expenditure. What are we to think of statesmen who ask us to spend Commonwealth money under these conditions? In the absence of the VicePresident of the Executive Council I point out to the Minister of Home Affairs that the only justification which the Government of which he is a member could offer for taking up this proposal would be a determination to insist that we shall have a Federal revenue and a Federal purse. But Premier Daglish does not go into that point. He will not listen to Federation so far as regards his revenue or his great wealth. Why cannot Senator de Largie make a Socialist of him ? Why cannot he build his own railway? Why cannot he give us a little of Western Australia’s surplus wealth to help us to run our own lines? It appears to me. that Mr. Premier Daglish is not a good Socialist or a good Labour man, and is a precious bad and selfish Federalist.
– He was painted to look like a Socialist at one time, but he rubbed the paint off.
– I wish he would rub a little Federal paint on. I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council what the meaning was of the twenty-five miles of land being reserved on each side of the line, but he did not appear to know. I have a recollection of reading somewhere that the land was to be set apart, and that if it was sold the money was to go into a fund to indemnify us all against loss. I believe that is somewhere in writing, but I cannot find it in the papers I have. It is all of a piece with the improper way in which this matter has been brought forward. Ought we not to know something about this reservation of land, and what kind of guarantee there will be to save the Commonwealth from loss? We have it in the papers before us that when Western Australia learned that South Australia objected to the project on financial grounds, thinking it too bold a venture, and that she could not afford it, almost the very next hour the. Premier of Western Australia telegraphed that if South Australia would only consent, Western Australia would guarantee her against loss for ten years. What is meant in the recent correspondence is that if the railway is built by the Federal Government, whatever share South Australia lias to pay of the loss, the Government of Western Australia will make up. That is very generous and fair, but is.it legal ? Is Western Australia going to guarantee one State against loss? Surely, seeing the position of the Tasmanian railways, if any State ought to be guaranteed against loss, it is Tasmania. Our position regarding railways is the worst in the Commonwealth. It must be so, because we have only 180,000 people, we have a small island, and honorable senators all know how mountainous a great part of it is. Our railways have cost £[7,000 or £[8,000 a mile, and we are now losing £[80,000 a year on £[4,000,006, or exactly 2 per cent. The two States of South Australia and Western Australia ought to provide safeguards before a penny of this £[20,000 is spent. I shall endeavour, so far as I can, to get the States to see that none of the money is spent until South Australia has given her consent by Act of Parliament - until she has unreservedly placed herself in the hands of the Federal Parliament. I shall also make it my duty to endeavour to see that none of the money is spent until the matter has been submitted to the High Court. It will be a bad day for Federation if we allow party politics, and political opportunism, and all those features which degrade public life, to be brought into play to enable some men to push a thing through Parliament in this way, thrusting on one side all constitutional, legal, and moral difficulties, and in the last resort getting their own way simply on account of their persistence, power, and influence, and this wretched system of party government. I shall not say that I wish my honorable friends joy of their £[20,000 if they get it. If they do get it, I hope it will be spent to good advantage, and that it will show that the country is better than some of us think it is. Every estimate we have had, no matter how skilful the railway experts may be, is simply guesswork. I do not think that any set of railway experts in the world can estimate what that railway will cost to build, what it will cost to maintain, and what it will earn. It is simply impossible to do so. I have a note of a Tittle railway in Victoria, not many miles away, of which the cost of construction, and the expenses of working were double the estimate, but I am happy to say that the receipts were more than double the estimate. Nobody can possibly foresee what will happen after a railway has been constructed across this waterless country. I am glad to hear that some part of it is not- a desert, but it certainly is waterless.
– I wish first of all to express regret that Senator Needham was not able to discuss the survey of this railway without dragging in the Queensland sugar bounty. I may take an opportunity, at a later date, to refer more fully to that question, but at present I would point out to the honorable senator that Australia as a whole has adopted a protectionist policy. A certain duty has been put upon sugar, as upon other articles, and that duty is imposed as part of the protectionist policy. The bounty is -right inside the duty. It is raised by means of Excise paid by the sugar producers, to whom that Excise is paid back again in the shape of a bounty. When the proper time arrives, I shall be prepared to show that the people of Australia as a whole are not paying more for sugar now than before Federation.
– Sugar is cheaper in the outside world.
– I hear an honorable senator interject that sugar is cheaper in the outside world.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that topic.
- Senator Needham also referred to the fact that the British Fleet in Australian waters visits Melbourne and Sydney, but not Western Australia, and is victualled at those ports. Exactly the same thing applies to Queensland as to Western Australia. Senator Needham appealed to us to treat Western Australia with fairness. We Queenslanders are prepared to treat her justly, but we are not prepared to go any further, and we might retort on our friends from Western Australia that “when an appeal was made fast year to this Parliament to support a proposal that the ocean mail service should be extended to Queensland, three of the five Western Australian representatives in the
Other House, and five out of the six in the Senate, voted against Brisbane being made » port of call. Only one Western Austraiian senator did not vote against it, and that was because he was absent. The result of that has been that Queensland is penalized every year to the extent-
– Will the honorable senator resume his seat? I must ask him to confine himself to the Bill now before the Senate. I have no objection to his making references to anything that has been said during the debate, but I cannot allow him to pursue the subject at any great length.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. Another argument that has been brought forward ad nauseam, is that a promise that the railway would be constructed, was definitely made to Western Australia as an inducement to her to join the Federation. That statement is incorrect. Only once before Federation can I find that any leading Australian statesman urged the people of Western Australia to vote for Federation by holding out to them a pious hope that they would be connected by rail with the rest of Australia. That was in a letter from Mr. Deakin, who was not Prime Minister, and not then likely to be. I fail to see that any honorable senator is bound by statements made at that time by an irresponsible individual.
– What about Mr. Kingston ?
– Other statements were made, but by South Australian statesmen. The whole difficulty in connexion with the construction of the line seems to lie between South and Western Australia Senator Dobson quoted from Sir John Forrest’s remarks made at the Federal Convention in Melbourne on the 25th January, 1898. I shall repeat what the right honorable gentleman said -
I cun only say that we have already built our railways up to within 400 miles of our boundary, and we shall be quite able to build other lines for ourselves when we can agree with our friends to join us on the border.
The significant part of that is the concluding words of the last sentence “when we can agree with our friends to join us on the border.” The difficulty seems to be that South Australia would never definitely consent to the building of the line. What Sir John Forrest said at the Convention was, in effect, “ We will build the line when our friends will meet us on the border.” That has been the whole trouble from beginning to end. To quote expressions of opinion by Mr. Kingston and other South Australians as being binding on the rest of Australia is simply to use arguments put forward to stave off Western Australia as reasons why Australia generally should pay for building the line. To show that Western Australia looks upon South Australia as blocking the way, Western Australia is prepared to guarantee the loss on her portion of the line, and has even offered to guarantee the loss on the South Australian portion. It appears that Western Australia has done everything she possibly and reasonably could do to induce South Australia to join her in connecting the two railway systems, but the fact that she has not been able to persuade South Australia to do so is no argument why Queensland or any of the other eastern States should as a matter of course, join in and do what South Australia has refused to do. We have been told that many promises have been made to Western Australia, but promises have also been made to other States. We may all hope that this undertaking will be carried out at some date, whether by the Federal Government or bv the States combined, and we hope to see Western Australia connected eventually bv rail with the eastern States. But other States have also had promises made to them which have not yet been carried out, and which possibly may be in the dim vista of the future. N>v South Wales has a written compact in the Constitution as to the Capital Site, but that agreement has not been carried out, so far, either in the letter or the spirit. Tasmania has had certain promises made in connexion with her revenues, and those promises have not been carried out, so that Tasmania feels herself reasonably aggrieved over it. Queensland was promised marvellous markets for her manufactures, and all sorts of other advantages, yet we find as the result of Federation - I am not going to say that we could have expected anything else, because personally I was not very keen on Federation - that for the three years after the first two years of Federation the production of Queensland manufacturers decreased at the rate of £1,000,000 a year, as compared with the three years before Federation. Western Australia may reasonably claim sympathetic consideration for this proposal, but her senators must understand that while we are perfectly prepared to extend to them any amount of sympathy, we must at the same time regard the matter from the point of view of how it will affect our own States, and consider whether we are under any real or serious obligation to pass this survey. We are told that we are only asked to sanction a survey. X ask honorable senators to think over the speech of Senator Best, and see if it does not contain almost nothing but an argument in favour of the construction of the railway. It has been stated over and over again that an honorable senator who votes for the survey of a route will be morally bound, should a favorable report be received, to vote for the construction of the railway. T hold that view. If I vote for the survey of a route, and it should be found that there will be a fair chance of the railway paying in the dim and distant future - and it is urged that it will pay in about ten years - then I should feel compelled to vote for its construction when proposed. There have been laid before us a large number of reports concerning the country to be traversed, including reports bv eminent explorers, such as Sir John Forrest. To some of them I do not pay very” much attention, but we. know that an immense quantity of information about the route appears to be available. If it is available, then it is obvious that the survey cannot be a mere exploration survey. It must be intended to precede the construction of the railway- Amongst the reports which have not been placed before honorable senators - unless, of course, they were submitted in a previous Parliament - is a report to the
Government of South Australia as to the bores which have been made along the route between Port Augusta and Eucla. It would be of very considerable value, as indicating the possibilities of obtaining a supply of water. I found that on the 25th July, Mr. Alfred H. G. Heath wrote from Dunolly the following letter to the Argus : -
So far as “ deep boring “ is concerned, the South Australian Government could supply Sir John with some very interesting data. That Stale has spared no expense in the endeavour to open up the country from Port Augusta to Eucla, adjacent and along the proposed railway route, for settlement. Thousands of pounds were spent by that State in the endeavour to secure an artesian water supply on these very plains that Sir John describes.
I think that in all fairness the Government might have ma,de an effort to get a copy of that report, and lay it before the Senate. I think further that if South Australia wishes to encourage the Federation to make a survey, her Government might have thought of forwarding the report to the Commonwealth Government, so that if a survey is to be made, we should be saved the very considerable cost of duplicating experimental bores. There is another statement made in the letter of Mr. Heath. I do not know whether it is correct or not, but it reads as follows : -
Sir John Forrest must know that all this plain land on the western side was at one time taken up and sold to English capitalists, who spent fortunes there in the endeavour to carry on sheep farming. However., nothing but disaster met their enterprise, and they were forced to absolutely abandon highly improved stations, properties, and buildings to the winds.
– The same thing may be said of certain parts of Queensland.
– They may be worse, but I am not discussing that point now. When Queensland asks the Commonwealth to construct a railway through her territory it will be time enough to discuss the quality of her land. If it is a fact that immense areas of these plains have been sold to an English company, the mere throwing up of the improvements does not revest the land in the Government.
– I happen to know that the land to which he alludes is not the land referred to in the report of Sir John Forrest, but land which is much nearer to Eucla.
– That may be correct. I merely mentioned the statement as it appeared in the letter. If the land has been sold, as the writer states, then the Government of the State concerned should have laid the information before this Parliament. The position is very much complicated by the fact that South Australia has not yet given her consent. I take it, however, that the Government of the Commonwealth will not attempt to spend any portion of this vote until definite consent has been given by that State. I desire to refer to the provisional agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia for the transfer of the Northern Territory. The price of taking over the Northern Territory and developing it by railways appears to include, amongst other things, the consent of South Australia to allow the Commonwealth to proceed with the construction of the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. It seems to me that there is a danger that we may be paying two prices. First of all, in order to get the Northern Territory, we shall have to agree to build a railway therein, and then we shall have to ask to be allowed to build a railway to Western Australia. In other words, before we have gone very far, we shall find ourselves tied up with two agreements, and each agreement will involve the construction of an expensive railway. The people of Queensland are not in a position to contribute to an expenditure of £8, 000,000 or £10,000,000 for the construction of two railways, one from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and the other from Oodnadatta, or some other point to Pine Creek. It is very regrettable that the question of the consent of South Australia to the survey and construction of a railway through her territory towards Western Australia should have been mixed up. with the agreement to transfer the Northern Territory. Reference has been made to the necessity of building a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie from a defence point of view. But the arguments used in its support have entirely ignored the fact that it wi,U not affect the defence of that part of Western Australia which is bound to be open to danger. Major-General Edwards has pointed out that what is required to defend Australia are two railways, namely, one to connect Perth with Eastern Australia, and the other to connect Port Darwin with Eastern Australia. But Major-General Hutton, in his report, pointed out that it is from the people of the East that danger is to be feared. I venture to suggest that everyone will agree with me when I mention that the danger from that quarter is to be feared at Port Darwin, Wyndham, and along the north and north-west coast of Western Australia and not at Perth. It has also been urged that a Federal spirit should induce us to agree to this survey. Speaking at Perth in July, 1900, Sir John F’orrest advocated that this line should be constructed in order to prevent Port Darwin becoming the gate of Australia. His trouble, then, was not that Western Australia should be connected with the eastern States as a matter of Federal spirit-
– But he is not Western Australia.
– Only that it is against the Standing Orders, I could quote a speech in which it is stated that it was Sir John Forrest who stood in the way of Western Australia entering the Federation;, but afterwards he declared that it was the danger of Perth losing the trade of the eastern States, and Port Darwin becoming the gate of Australia which made him urge the construction of the railway. During my short experience in the Senate, it has struck me as a most remarkable fact that when any State wants a thing for which it ought to pay, its representatives invariably trot out the Federal spirit, and appeal to every one to regard the proposal entirely from an Australian point of view. It would be better if we were to drop talking about the Federal spirit, and to recognise that we are all actuated by a desire to do what we believe to be best for Australia as a whole. It has also been said, of course, that the country to be traversed by the railway is entirely undeveloped. That may be perfectly true, but I hold that it is not the business of the Commonwealth to explore or develop country which belongs to any States and .which those States cannot explore or develop on their own account. If a State finds it is unable or unwilling to proceed with the development of a portion of its area, it will have the opportunity of offering it to the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth can then treat the country as a Territory, and develop it by constructing a railway or by other means, as it may think fit. The time will come when that Territory will be populated and developed, and it will be erected into a State. That, I think, is the legitimate way in which the Commonwealth should construct railways to develop unexplored or undeveloped parts of States. The States own the lands, and upon the manner in which the lands are held and their resources developed will largely depend the success of a railway. Australia is now asked to be responsible for the construction of a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. The land which it will serve is in the hands of two States. If those States mismanage the land, and the railway does not pay in consequence of such mismanagement, who will bear the loss ? It will be borne, not by the two States concerned, but by the Commonwealth, comprising States that have no voice in the management of the land. Before we decide to construct a railway - the construction of a military railway is provided for in the Constitution - to develop or explore land, we should certainly have the control of the land. If that portion of Australia which it is proposed to traverse with this railway were created into a Territory the Commonwealth would have control of the land, and if it were mismanaged, or the railway did not pay, it would have to bear the loss. I am not in favour of any proposal which is likely to lead to the institution of a new railway department. We have in existence six Railway Departments, and the creation of a seventh would not only add to the general cost of government throughout the Commonwealth, but also lead to a large number of questions being raised in each House of this Parliament which would divert the attention of its members from those large national questions which they had been sent here to consider. I have drawn an analogy between the Northern Territory and the country with which this Bill is concerned. I strongly urge honorable senators to consider seriously the question whether it is wise for the Commonwealth to enter upon this new business of developing territory belonging to States instead of asking those States first of all to place the land to be traversed by the railway in the hands of the Commonwealth, so that we can treat it as a Territory, and, later on, when suitable conditions are created, convert it into a State. For such a purpose, we might take the country lying between the 125th and the 1:33rd lines of longitude and the 26th parallel of latitude down to the coast. We are told that that country is a barren waste or a sandy desert, upon which there is no settlement. I have discovered upon the map one place where there is water. It is called Boundary Dam. And it is well worth remarking that when you have such a dam marked in the middle of country which is not at present occupied, it is a fair inference that the loss of such territory would not be a hardship to Western Aus tralia in any way. I think that the area of Western Australia is 625,000,000 acres. To sever this portion from her territory would be to take a mere flea-bite. So far as South Australia! is concerned, it would still leave that State with a territory larger than New South Wales. If what I recommend were done, there would be a reasonable chance of developing the territoryif it is capable of being developed - and there would be some justification for constructing the railway. For the reasons that I have given, I beg to move -
That all the words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ pending the consent of the States of South Australia and Western Australia to the erection into a new Territory of those portions of the said States lying approximately between the 125th and 133rd lines of longitude and south of the 26th parallel of latitude, it is not desirable for the Commonwealth to undertake the survey or construction of any railway within the said area.”
I cannot say that I have much hope that my amendment will be accepted, ‘but it will at any rate afford an opportunity for the discussion of the position that I have explained. There is proposed to us a scheme for the construction of a line to develop the unexplored and unsettled portion of territory belonging to two States. The acquirement of that area by the Commonwealth might afford justification for the construction of the line. I commend the proposal to honorable senators, and hope that thev will give serious consideration to the few remarks which I have made.
– I desire to say a few words as to the reasons which will actuate me in giving a vote in favour of the proposed survey. In doing so, however, I wish’ emphatically to express my opinion that I shall not be necessarily bound, even morally, to vote in favour of the railway itself. I shall vote for the survey because I believe that, prior to Federation, Western Australia took every legitimate step to gauge the feeling existing in the States as to linking her territory with the rest of the Commonwealth by railway. I believe that Western Australia would not have come into the Federation unless she had believed that she would be connected by railway with the other States. I recognise that at the present Western Australia . is in exactly the same position as New Zealand. While a distance of 1,200 miles or over separates the Commonwealth from
New Zealand, there is a distance of over 1,000 miles of sea between South Australia and Perth and Fremantle, which are the principal ports of Western Australia. Looking at the master from a purely business point of view, New Zealand acted quite rightly in her own interest in not entering the Federation. Western Australia was in almost exactly the same position. She knew that she had to sacrifice much in determining to enter Federation, but she also realized that there was a possibility of becoming linked with the other States of Australia. I can come to no other conclusion than that Western Australia did enter the Federation in the belief that she would thereby become connected by railway with the eastern States, and that consequently we should have a Federation in reality. I believe that we should, as soon as possible, carry out that obligation. I take it that, after consenting to the survey, and assuming that the survey is favorable, we shall be willing to do our part in linking together the States. I do not say that I shall give my vote in favour of spending the large sum of money that will be necessary for the building of the railway, or bind myself to any conditions except such as are equitable. But we are bound to consider favorably any proposal that is made for constructing the line under conditions which are in keeping with what Western Australia has a right to expect from the fact that she entered the Federation in the expectation that the railway would be built. I have a good deal of sympathy with the Tasmanian representatives with regard to th’e position in which their State is placed in reference to her share of the expense. So sincerely do I feel for Tasmania, that, as I have said on previous occasions, I believe that the people of Australia and their representatives would be inclined to consider favorably her financial position, and to meet her claims. It is impossible to ignore the fact that Tasmania has suffered materially in financial matters, and that she has a strong, claim to special assistance. Therefore, I should be inclined to take a generous view of her position.
Sitting suspended from 6. JO to 7. 45 p.m.
– I am sure that I interpret the feeling of every honorable senator representing the other States, when I say that they have been pleased to note the prosperity which Western Australia has enjoyed since the establishment of
Federation. I believe I am correct in saying that during the last six years there has been a marked advance in that State in all that pertains to the well-being of a community. I had the pleasure last week of reading the half-yearly returns of statistics for the State, and I was glad to note a very satisfactory increase in the number of her flocks and herds, and in the production of cereal crops. The general advance that has been made leads me to believe that the people of the gold-fields, whilst remaining an important factor, do not now exercise the dominating influence which they did. With the exception of the manufacturing industry, the agricultural, and every other local industry have made great advances since the establishment of Federation. The fact that the manufacturing industry of the State does not show a like advance, is due to one of the effects of Federation, which has been attended by similar results in all the smaller States. I put it to honorable senators to say whether, in view of the present position of Western Australia, and the possibilities of further development before that State, the difficulty of finding £20,000 is one of so much importance to her people as some honorable senators would suggest. I venture the opinion that if that were all that was necessary, Western Australia could provide the £20,000 without trouble and without inconvenience. -But I gather that in thismatter there is a distinct principle involved ; that the people of Western Australia indulged anticipations concerning the construction of the proposed railway, which had very considerable influence in inducing them to consent to that State joining the Federation. It is, of course, important to us that we should know the character df the country through which the proposed railway would pass, and the expense likely to be incurred in its construction, but in these times the cost of construction would not be the total bar to the building of the line by the State which it would probably ‘have been in years gone by. I think I may safely affirm that the difficulties in the way of the construction of that line are such ashave been frequently overcome in other countries, and could be overcome by Westfrn Australia. We can all recollect the difficulties which were anticipated in connexion with the construction of the railway from the eastern States of the United Statesto San Francisco - of the railway connecting the United States with the Canadian Dominion, and the line connecting Eastern
Canada with the State of Columbia. There were many prophets who foretold that those railways could not be built owing to the enormous cost that would be involved in their construction. I believe that the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie might be constructed within the estimate of £[5,000,000 which has been referred to. As I am not an expert in railway construction, my opinion on that point may not perhaps be worth, much, but I have gone into the figures, and I believe that if the construction was carried out in a business-like fashion, it would not cost more than the estimate stated.
– Mr. O’Connor estimated that it would cost only £[4,500,000.
– L venture further to assert that within ten years of its construction, the revenue to be derived from that railway would be sufficient to cover working expenses. I need not go into details, because most of the members of the Senate have had quite a sufficient dose of this subject, but the development of Western Australia since Federation, the possibilities of the future development of that State, of the State of South Australia, and of the Commonwealth as a. whole, and the fact that it- is not likely that the line could be completed in less than five or six years, lead me to believe that there would be a much heavier traffic over the line at the close of the period mentioned than the engineers have allowed for in making their estimate of revenue. I see no reason why, if the construction of the line were undertaken in a business-like way, it should not be built for an amount within the estimate, and I believe the Commonwealth would, within the ten years specified, have in connexion with that railway a credit, and not a debit account. I believe there would be no difficulty in getting a syndicate to build and take over the railway on reasonable terms. However, as the question of the defence of Australia is involved in the matter, I think it would be very unwise for Western Australia or South Australia to enter into any arrangement for the construction of the line by a syndicate. I find it hard to believe that, with the general advance of Australia, and in view of the policy of immigration which has been foreshadowed, there would not within fifteen years from the present time be sufficient traffic between Western Australia and South Australia to cover working expenses and maintenance. For these reasons, and without committing myself to support the con- struction of the line except on conditions I consider equitable, I have very much pleasure in stating that I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill.
– I do not know that there is very much in Senator Gray’s argument with respect to the building of American and Canadian transcontinental railways. We know that they were built purely by the concession of land grants and large subsidies to private companies, who undertook their construction. That is not the way in which we have built our railways in Australia. When I entered the Senate first, I” had not pledged myself on this question to the electors of Queensland. On different platforms I was asked whether I was in favour of the construction of the line, and I gave the answer that I had not sufficient information on the question to pledge myself one way or the other. When I entered the Senate, I tried to get information concerning it. Some honorable senators from Western Australia said, “ If you wait until the debate on the second reading of the Survey Bill comes on, we shall be able to give you sufficient information to satisfy you that it is a very reasonable proposal.” While waiting for the debate, I secured all the reports furnished’ to Parliament in connexion with the matter. . I looked into them, and I must say that I failed to see anything reasonable in the proposal. While it might be a very good thing for one State, it did not appear to me to be fair to ask the other States of Australia to bear the burden. With respect to the promises said to have been given byprominent men prior to Federation, I can only say that there was nothing in them. Nothing was said in Queensland on the subject, and no one in that State held out a promise of support for the construction of the line as an inducement to Western Australia to join the Federation; for the simple reason that Queensland was. not represented at’ the Convention, and had no say in the matter. The people of that State have a perfectly free hand in dealing with this question. It is not usual for the people of Australia to look upon the promises of public men as being worth very much until they assume a-practical shape in the form of legislation. Promises have been made by public men throughout Australia as to what they would do if they got the opportunity, and many of them have left public life before those promises which they held out as a bait to others have been f ulfilled. I do not know that’ Australia is going to be bound by the fact that Sir Frederick Holder, or Mr. Kingston said to the people of Western Australia, “ If you join the Federation in all probability you will get some help in the construction of this railway.” Possibly the people of Western Australia have been expecting altogether too much from the Federation. In the first or second session of the Federal Parliament, representatives of Western Australia, in another place wished to invoke the power of the Commonwealth to compel the State Government of Western Australia to construct certain railways within the boundaries of that State. They thought that the State Government was doing something which was against the best interests of the Commonwealth, and they asked that the influence of the Federation should be’ exercised to compel the State Government to adopt a certain course. They made out a. good, case, and that, is why I was interested in what Senator Givens said to-day about, the- EsperanceBay railway. Some time last year there was handed to me a report of what took place on that occasion. Mr.. Mahon moved in another place on October 9, 1902,. the following motion -
That the construction of a railway between Esperance and Coolgardie, or some other point on the eastern gold-fields of Western Australia, is. essential. to the “absolute, freedom” of InterState trade contemplated by the Constitution.
The representatives of Western Australia had the idea that the Western Australian Government were not moving sufficiently fast, and wanted to invoke the power of the Federation. They pointed out bow it was keeping back the trade of Western Australia, and explained the sort of country in which people had to live. This is a quotation from Mr. Mahon’s speech on that occasion -
Let us leave mails, trade, and traffic out of the question, and consider the matter as it affects humanity. Here is a community of 50,000 people occupying a new territory destitute of any natural attraction,
He was speaking of a part of Western Australia where a large number of people are now settled -
Water there is non’e, except what may be conserved or obtained by condensation ; food is at what would here be regarded as famine prices. The people live in tents or iron buildings, which offer little or no resistance to the heat and duststorms ; they are ill-supplied with schools, and entirely destitute of the means, of recreation available in cities. Conceive the sufferings of little children growing up under such hard conditions and amidst so much unavoidable discomfort. They are chained to the sun-baked- plains, though within a few hours journey of the seaboard. The monotony of their lives must not be broken by a glimpse of the ocean, nor by a gambol in its surges, because the railway which would bring them to the coast might damage vested interests in Perth arid Fremantle. I ask, must land values in the capital be kept up, even if the price be the lives of little children who pine away for lack of the recuperating breezes of ocean and mountain top ?
He then went on to disavow the use of the language of exaggeration in any way. Another Western Australian representative at that time, Mr. Kirwan, while recognising that the Commonwealth had no power to compel the State Government to construct the line> said -
The construction of the railway by the Commonwealth would to some extent cheapen the cost, of the proposed transcontinental railway, because it would allow much of the material required to be brought over 220 miles of a federal railway, instead of over nearly 400 miles of State railway.
That honorable member evidently had the idea that a time might come when the Federal Government would be compelled to use force to see that, that railway was constructed by the State.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the first section of that railway is actually in course of construction at the present time?
– Yes. And I want to show from this document how little hope there is of any great traffic on the line proposed to be surveyed now. The reasons put forward by the people of the gold-fields in favour of the Esperance line were -
All public bodies on the Eastern Gold-fields have unanimously decided that the line is essential.
To give the necessary facilities for traffic.
To save the lives of our little ones.
To renovate our health, by giving us access to an Antarctic instead of a tropical sea-board.
The line will open up ten distinct known goldfields at present working.
It will give our population access to hundreds of thousands of acres of land suitable for agricultural and horticultural purposes, with an average rainfall during the last seventeen years of 23 inches.
It will open up a cheap timber supply for our mines sufficient for the next twenty years, and this alone would pay the cost of construction.
It will open up a salt industry at Esperance second to none in the Commonwealth.
It will immediately give work to our increasing unemployed, and will at once provide occupation for a 10,000 population and many more in the near future.
It will diminish the time of transit to, and from, the eastern States by two days each way.
Figures given in this document show the distance that would be saved by the construction of the Esperance line as compared with the existing railway from the goldfields to Fremantle. The distance from Adelaide to Esperance is 836 miles. From Adelaide to Fremantle is 1,36b miles, or a difference of 524 miles. A railway from Esperance to Kalgoorlie would be 220 miles long, while the existing line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle is 386 miles. One of the arguments put forward for the Esperance line was the expense of travelling and length of time occupied both for passengers and goods on the line to Fremantle. As indicating the saving that would be effected to the people of the goldfields, they showed that the first class single fare from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle was £3 2s. 3d., while to Esperance it would be j£i 17s. 3d., or a saving of 25s. on a single ticket. It was shown also that the saving would be £1 18s. 6d. on a first class return ticket, 15s. 8d. on a second class single ticket, and j£i 3s. 6d. on a second class return ticket. The figures given in this document include the freights for live stock and produce. They show that there would be a saving of £[8 17 s. 5d. on the carriage of 6 tons of produce in the different classes on the line to Esperance, as compared with the existing line to Fremantle. That railway has now been started a few miles further down than where it was then proposed to start it. Seeing that when that line is completed the journey will be. considerably shortened and freights and fares so much lowered,_ it seems to me that we shall have very little return from the construction of 1,100 miles of railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. We are practically asked by this Bill to go on with the construction of the line, because the expense of the survey will really be added to the cost of construction, and, therefore, can be called part of it. Unless we are prepared to say that we can afford to construct the line, it is absolutely useless for us to throw away £[20,000 on the survey. , I have a pamphlet issued by the Western Australian Government, containing all the statements, or alleged statements, made regarding promises. That aspect of the matter has been dealt with by a number of honorable senators, and I do not wish to go over it again. In my opinion, those statements do not bind members of this Parlia- ment or the people of Australia to go into this enterprise. Since this project was last under consideration in this Chamber an agreement entered into by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Premier of South Australia has been published. It contains two clauses in which honorable senators should be interested. The first provides that the State of South Australia is to -
Consent to the acquisition of and sell and transfer to the Commonwealth the Port Augusta Railway, the acquisition price to be the cost of construction of the Railway line, including the cost of resumptions and stations and wharfs, and other buildings and accessories used therewith without interest added, but shall not include any expenditure on maintenance works - such Railway to include the lands now used for and reserved for such Railway, together with all stations and other buildings, sidings, wharfs, and other accessories used in’ connexion with the working of the said Railway, except the railway carriages, trucks, and other movable plant.
That is part of an agreement which is to be put before the whole of the States. It means that we are to acquire by purchase the railway that has already been built from Adelaide to Port Augusta.
– It only means the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.
– I was under the mistaken impression that it meant the line between Adelaide and Port Augusta. I understand now that the line it is proposed that the Commonwealth shall purchase, is the one that runs a considerable distance north from Port Augusta. Another clause in the agreement reads -
The State is to authorize by .legislation the Federal Government in the same way and to the same extent . to do all that is necessary to enable it to construct or authorize the construction of a Railway line westerly from any point on the Port Augusta Railway line through South Australia proper to any point on the western boundary line of South Australia proper by a route to be determined by the Federal Parliament, and to maintain and work it when constructed.
– They have to look for the route now.
– That is to say, we are bound to adopt that agreement.
– We are practically asked to adopt now, by passing this Bill, part of an agreement which will come up later for the consideration of this Parliament. We are asked to take a small portion of it and agree to it beforehand.
– Only so far as to look for a route.
– At the same time the honorable senator knows that the Government of South Australia ‘ have stated time after time that unless they are permitted to say what the route and the gauge shall be they will not give their consent to the construction of the line. Senator Symon said last year, as reported in Hansard, that he thought it would be a very bad thing for South Australia to give its consent to the construction of the fine at all’.
– And Senator Playford, when moving the second reading of a similar Bill, affirmed that South Australia would never give that consent.
– That was only his personal opinion.”
– Yes. At the same time, we have to. bear in mind that Senator Playford considered that it would be disastrous to his State.
– Perhaps thai is- why he was defeated.
– I wonder if that was the reason why Senator Symon topped the poll ?
– Did any South Australian advocate the railway, then?
– No, [he survey of a route.
– I propose to read the opinion of a candidate who was defeated, and that of the candidate who headed the poll. Senator Givens said that he did not think ic was of any use to quote from the reports; but as the Senate includes a number of new men, perhaps it may be just as well for me to call their attention to the position in 1906. On the last occasion when this question was before the Senate, Senator Playford is reported, on page 2474 of Hansard, to have said -
I can quite understand that before the Parliament of South Australia would be prepared to agree to the building of the line they would require to be assured of two things - the route to be taken and the gauge to be adopted for the railway. The route is a most important consideration for the State of South Australia, because if the line goes in one direction it will be of very little use to the State, whilst if it goes in another direction it will be of no use. If the line does not traverse the mineral country in South Australia, it will not be of much use to that State as it will Be if it is taken by way of Tarcoola, and thus opens up the mineral country. If, on the. other hand, it is decided that the line shall be built on the 4 ft. 8£ in. gauge, South Australia might very well say “ No, thank you,” because that would mean the alteration of the existing gauge from Port Augusta, and the State of South Australia could not afford to make that alteration.
Further on he said -
South Australia, will demand the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. She could not afford any other.
Evidently he was not expressing the opinion of South Australia.
– His absence from the Senate now proves that he was not.
– It is very curious that all those honorable senators who are now talking in that way about Senator Playford were behind him last year when he was making those statements. They were prepared to stand by him at any cost, so long as he was willing to cast his vote in favour of the railway. I do not desire to quote further from his speech, but propose to read a quotation from the speech of Senator Symon.
– In which year?
– In the same year, 1906.
– Quote from the speech he made in 1905.
– I have not the Hansard for that year; but the honorable senator can quote from that speech if he likes. On page 4539 I find that an honorable senator made this interjection -
Will not the making of the sUrvey give to Western Australia a claim in regard to the construction of the line?
In reply, Senator Symon said -
I think not. I assure my honorable friends that if I thought so I would not support one single line of this Bill. Not only that, but my personal feeling is so strong that when I have an opportunity I shall bring this question before the people of South Australia in a very concrete shape. My views are thoroughly well known there, but the question has not been put as an issue to the people of South Australia. Their feeling is against the construction of the line ; and that feeling has been intensified lately by what has happened in connexion with the Northern Territory.
– That is not correct.
– Both the honorable senator and Senator Symon were returned, and who is to decide whether the statement of the latter is correct or not?
– He did not put it in a concrete form before the electors.
– I do not know whether he did or not. I am only quoting from Hansard the statements which he made on the question last year. Senator Dobson has read several telegrams from the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Premier of South Australia, and they all point to the same- thing - that South Australia will not give her consent to anything but the survey of a route, and that she has always reserved to herself the right to say what shall be the route and the gauge.
– And even then she does not promise that she will consent to the construction of the railway.
– No. So far as South Australia is concerned, the Commonwealth is to be at liberty to spend £[20,000 in making a survey of the country, but it is to remain with that State to say whether it will agree to the construction of the line or not. I do not think it is fair to expect the other States to contribute towards the cost of an exploratory survey in South Australia or Western Australia. They have all had to bear the cost of opening up their own territories, and it is only reasonable to ask that South Australia and Western Australia, if they wish to ascertain the nature of the country, should defray the cost of a survey; if they think that that would not be satisfactory to the Commonwealth, let them give a guarantee to bear the cost between them, and allow the Commonwealth to make the survey.
– How generous the honorable senator is. Why did he not practise that spirit when the proposal for a sugar bounty was before the Senate?
– As a Queenslander I am prepared to give to any industry, established in Western Australia, or any other part of the Commonwealth, exactly the same conditions by raising; a large amount by Excise and paying part of if back in bounties.
– Was the bounty supported, then, as a gift to Queensland, or as part of a national policy?
– I understand that the bounty was given because it was recognised that the coloured alien was a menace to Australia, and that it was better to have our industries carried on with white labour. I do not know whether there is a question of coloured labour connected with the proposed survey. I do not know whether the representatives of Western Australia contemplate that it shall be carried out with coloured labour. But in the case of any industry which they like to establish in that State I believe that I can promise that they shall have the solid support of the Queensland representatives in extending to it the same treatment as has been extended to the sugar industry.
– But the making of the survey is urged from a defence point of view.
– The only argument which has yet been advanced is the argument of defence. I want to quote two or three paragraphs from the report of Mr. C. V. O’Connor, who was Engineer-in-Chief of Western Australian railways. He says -
In an undertaking of this magnitude, traversing 1,100 miles of country, which is mostly uninhabited and uncultivated and waterless, although there are no engineering difficulties to contend with, there -is necessarily a good deal of uncertainty as to its probable cost.
This gentleman. estimates the cost of construction at £[4,400,000, and then goes into a number of calculations regarding the traffic. He says that so many thousand persons travelled by boat between Adelaide and Fremantle in a certain period, and he assumes that each passenger by boat will be a passenger by the railway. Apparently if the railway is constructed there are to be no passengers by the boats. Mr. O’Connor also estimates that the railway will earn a large revenue from the carriage of “a considerable number of cattle from- South Australia to Western Australia at a couple of pounds per head.
– He does not say definitely that all those passengers will travel by the railway.
– Practically Mr. O’Connor estimates that they will all travel by the railway. He says that 40,000 passengers travelled by boat in a year.
– If the honorable senator will read the report he will find that Mr. O’Conner simply refers to gold-fields passengers travelling by the railway.
– That is so, but Mr. O’Connor takes the number- of passengers who had travelled by the boats.
– That is, from the goldfields. By the time a person from the goldfields could get down to Perth he could be half way to Adelaide by the railway.
– Does, not the honorable senator think that he ought to read the whole of the report ?-
– No. ‘
– Because it does not suit the honorable senator.
– It would suit me to read the whole of the report, but I do not think it is necessary to take up so much time. If I were to stand here for three or four hours I should be charged with wasting time by those who are now finding fault with me. I am pointing out that in his report Mr. O’Connor gives the. traffic on the passenger boats.
– Let the honorable senator quote .all . his figures.
– Here is the reason given by this gentleman as to why all the traffic will go by the railway-
It will thus be seen that, in all cases, the cost by the overland route will be less than by the ocean liners, even on basis of present rates, and still more so on basis of proposed rates; and, although there is the fact that, in most cases, the cost by intercolonial steamers would be less than by the overland route at existing railway rates, and in one case at proposed railway rates, there is also the fact that a very large number of persons now go backwards and forwards by the ocean liners - probably to save time - although they could go cheaper by the intercolonial steamers, and, that being so, it is probable that they would go by overland railway, when it is made, as that would be, not alone quicker, but also cheaper than by ocean liners.
But the rates mentioned are not .at all in accordance with the rates now charged by the steam-boats on .every portion of the Australian coast when the steam-ship companies have to compete with the railways. It seems to be assumed that passenger rates would be considerably less by train .than by boat. Take the journey from Melbourne to Brisbane, and back. It costs £12 for a return ticket, in addition to which the passenger pays £2 10s. for sleeping berths. It will cost him nearly £1 for incidental expenses, making the total cost of this journey about £15 ios. The heaviest traffic on- any long-distance line in Australia is. I suppose, on that between Sydney and Melbourne, which are our two largest centres. The distance between Melbourne and Brisbane is about 1,300 miles. Now, take the cost of travelling by boat. The steam-ship companies issue a’ return ticket from Brisbane to Melbourne and back for £7 ios., for which they feed the passenger, and enable him to live on board two days in Sydney.
– What is the time occupied?
– It takes about six days to reach Brisbane from Melbourne by steamer. At the present time, the large majority of the travelling public prefer to go by. steamer rather than by rail. Why?
– When the honorable senator speaks of the journey occupying six days, he means that it. takes twelve days to go to Brisbane and back.
– Is not .the honorable senator’s point that while on the journey from .Melbourne .to .Brisbane fares are cheaper by boat , than by rail in the report to which he has referred .the reverse is taken to be the case ?
– That is the point.. We are asked to believe that the railways will carry passengers at considerably lower rates than the steam-boats will do, whereas in other parts of Australia the reverse is the case. If the steam-boats have to compete for passenger traffic between ‘Melbourne and Western Australia, they will’ lower their fares. At present one can .go by boat from Sydney to Brisbane for £3. and sometimes for less. There is not a great deal of time lost in going by boat. The one journey occupies .2 7 J hours, and the other from 38 to 40 hours. The bulk of the passenger traffic is by boat .rather than by rail, although the railway runs through fairly good country. I am sorry that I have >not the last report of the Queensland railways, but I think it is a fact that the line running from Gowrie Junction to Wallangarra, which has been in existence for eighteen years, does not pay. Yet that line Tuns through splendid country. It touches such places as Clifton, Warwick, and Stanthorpe, where there are hundreds of tons of stuff to be shifted, and where the mair* line is fed by a number of branch lines. Some time ago, it -was paying 1 per cent, on the cost of construction.
– Does not the line between Melbourne and Sydney pay?
– I do not know what it pays, but I heard the statement made last year, or the year before, that the Sydney to Melbourne line was only paying a little over the working expenses and interest on the cost of construction. Yet there is a population of half a million at each end of it.
– The Western Australianline will have the benefit of the passengers from all the other States who are travellingstraight through to the West.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that passengers will prefer the discomforts of a railway journey in face of the heavier fares that will be demanded ?
– I would rather paydouble to travel by rail.
– That must be because .the honorable senator is subject to* sea sickness. I am satisfied that no sane person would prefer to travel such a distance by railway rather than by boat, un- less there were some special reason for it.
– The honorable senator admits that the railway would be the means of reducing fares bv the steamers?
– I admit at once that as soon as a railway comes into competition with the steam-boats, the companies will reduce their passenger fares. But is it a fair thing to ask the whole of Australia to spend£5,000,000 to reduce fares between Adelaide and Fremantle for the benefit of those who prefer to travel by boat ? It does not. seem to me to be a fair request.
– That is: only one of the benefits from the line which the honorable senator has discovered. We do not urge that argument.
– The honorable senator would like to get. back to the bullock-dray period!
– I wish to look at the matter from a fair stand-point, and, therefore, I ask myself whether it would pay Australia to undertake this work.
– The honorable senator should also ask himself whether Western Australia is going to remain part of the Federation if. we do not comply with her legitimaterequest:.
– That argument was sufficiently dealt with last year by Senator Pearce. If Senator Gray will turn up the speech of that honorable senator, he will see how he dealt with a number of men in the Western Australian Parliament who had been talking secession. He might just as well ask us to take notice of the Premier of New South Wales, who has been talking secession as hard as he can, and says that his State is going to get out of the Federation because it does not come up to his expectations.
– He says that with just as little force as the Western Australian members did.
SenatorTURLEY. - Quite so.
SenatorMcGregor. - Because there are some fools in the Western Australian Parliament, the honorable senator surely would not deny the Western Australian people what would be of benefit to them?
– I am not going to deny any people any benefit to which they are entitled. But I do not know that there was any understanding that this railway should be built. As I have already stated, I declined absolutely when I was before the electors tq pledge myself either for or against the railway, because I had not sufficient information. It is only because I have since studied the reports submitted to us that I have been able to make up my mind.
– The honorable senator requires more information, which the survey would give him.
– It is not a question of getting more information. If honorable senators will read the reports placed in their hands, they will see that the information is ample. The Engineers-in-Chief, who started out to tell us why the railway should be built, ended by admitting that they do not know why it should be built. They sayso much even in answer to the questions which were submitted to them.
– The question of policy was not for them to determine..
– Although the question was submitted to them, they say that it is no business of theirs.
– They would not express any opinion.
– They would have got the sack if they had done.
– The information furnished by the engineers would cause one to believe that they do not think for a moment that the railway would pay for a number of years. They say that on the opening of the line the revenue wouldbe £205,860; the estimated expenditure, £114,400; interest at 3½ per cent, would amount to £159,566; and the deficiency each year would be £68,106.
– Is not the deficiency graduated, diminishing with the years?
– No, but the engineers say that at the end of ten years the revenue would be £411,720. I should say that those figures are based on the assumption that the population of Western Australia would double itself within ten years.
– Is it just at the end pf the ten years’ period that it would double itself? Would not the increase of population be going on all the time?
– I am quoting from papers which have been put into the hands of honorable senators.
– The honorable senator is not putting a reasonable construction upon his quotations. If the loss would be £68,106 in the first year of the period, it might not be so much’ in subsequent years.
– The; estimate is a loss of £68,106 each year for ten years.
– A loss of £680,000 in ten years.
– That is so. There is an estimate of a loss of £680,000, spread over the ten years. At the close of the ten years, there is an estimate of a revenue of £411,720, and of working expenses of £210,000, and a further estimate for interest at $ per cent, of
– The honorable senator is assuming that the population would only be doubled’ at the end of the ten years’ period, and he is giving no credit for the gradual increase of population. .
– I have already explained that there is an estimate of a total loss of £680,000, which is at the rate of £68,106 for each year of the ten years’ period. The estimate further shows at the close of that period a profit over working expenses and interest of £23,564 a year. We have had some very valuable experience in the working of the line between Sydney and Brisbane. We were told that that line would pay within four or five years from the time it was completed. It. was constructed in sections, and when the Queensland sections from Toowoomba to the border of New South Wales at Wallangarra were being submitted, we were told that unless those sections were pushed on with the State would, lose money on the line. It was said that all that was wanted was to secure the connecting link with the New South Wales railways, and a revenue would follow which would recoup Queensland for all the losses suffered in making the connexion. The through line has been in existence now for eighteen years, and it is not paying yet.
– That is a trunk line.
– Would not this be a trunk line?
– Yes ; but, strange to say, it is on the trunk lines in every system that the profit is made.
– I quite admit that in some of the State railway systems the profits are made on the main lines. ‘ The Northern Railway in Queensland pays very well, and so does the Central Railway. It is probable’ also that the line from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie pays well.
– All the New South Wales main lines pay.
– That is not so.
– But the proposed railway would form a trunk line ‘ differing from any other- of which we have any knowledge in Australia.
– That does not help the honorable senator.
– I think that it does. The line between Brisbane and Sydney, of which I . speak, was built in sections over good country that was well known, and on which there was a considerable amount of settlement before the line was constructed. Is there any settlement along the route of the line under consideration which would induce us to believe that it “would pay to run a line through that country?
– I suppose the cost of the line from Brisbane to Sydney was materially increased by the fact that the country was settled.
– It was not greatly increased on that account. A very great deal of the land through which the line runs was held under lease, and it did not cost much fo resume it. Some of the land being held under freehold had of course to be paid for when it was resumed. At the same time, the railway was not a very expensive one to construct, and it has since its construction been very considerably improved. My point is that the country through which it runs was good enough to induce people to settle upon it before it was supplied with railway communication. That speaks highly of the character of the land. Does it speak well for the character of the country through which this proposed line is to be built, that while men have been hunting all over Australia for the last twenty years for good pastoral land, all who have prospected this country and taken it up for pastoral purposes have gone down ?
– There are some on it now.
- Senator Playford, in his speech last year, told us that there was one man who squatted on that country and had remained there for some time, but that the last drought drove him out altogether.
– There are a few buried there.
– One of the reports on which the advocates of this line greatly rely is that submitted by Mr. John Muir. I understood we were going to tret a great deal out of that report. Mr. Muir was in charge of an expedition that was fitted out with camels and everything necessary to take him across the country, in order that he might report as to what it was like.
– What is the date of that report ?
-It is dated 1901. Here is a paragraph which honorable senators will find at page 4 of the report -
At some considerable time back a large volume of water must have gone down this creek in order to cut such a distinct channel through the country ; but judging by the decayed timber and debris lying in its bed this has not occurred for at least ten years, and probably not for a longer period.
Here, this man, who was sent out to tell us what kind of country this is, gives us the information concerning this creek, that no volume of water had gone down it for ten years, and probably not for a longer period. He found that he could not travel for want of water, and had to depend on camels who could travel for four or five days without water. He said further on in his report -
I was anxious to thoroughly test this country for water, but our efforts were quite fruitless. We had no better luck than on the previous trip.
He also said -
I am quite satisfied that the country we have been exploring is almost if not quite waterless. The natives evidently obtain their water supply from the mallee and other roots, numerous heaps of which are to be seen lying about, and a blackfellow will not, I believe, have recourse to these roots if he can obtain water within anything like a reasonable distance.
– What part of the country does that refer to?
– It refers to the country past Goddard’s Creek, a considerable distance on the way across to Eucla.
-Colonel Cameron. - Is that country in Western Australia or South Australia?
– In Western Australia. Mr. Muir’s report was made to the Engineer-in-Chief of “Western Australia. .
– Near Eucla, did the honorable senator say?
– I do not know at what distance this country is from Eucla, but Mr. Muir, speaking of the character of the country, refers to a creek through which no volume of water had flowed for ten years, and says that there was no possibility of getting surface water anywhere.
– The country must vary in a distance of 1,100 miles.
– It does decidedly. But Mr. Muir points out that he tested this district, and came to the conclusion that it was a waterless area.
– Is there not something in the report about splendidly grassed country ?
- Mr. Muir says that there is grass growing on the limestone formation.
– It is a kind of grass that grows absolutely without water.
– No grass grows without water, but it does not take a great deal of rain to produce a considerable growth of grass in some country.
– I have known an excellent coat of grass to be seen for a short period in country with an average annual rainfall of 4 inches.
– There is a good deal of grass to be seen at times in the country on the western border of Queensland, about Birdsville, where the average annual rainfall is only 5 inches. In another portion of his report, Mr. Muir says that, taking it as a whole, the country was some of the finest he had seen - and with water which doubtless could be obtained if properly prospected for,
Which is simply a pious opinion.
– We want more information.
-He says that- with water, which doubtless could be obtained if properly prospected for, it is admirably adapted for grazing purposes, and will without doubt be taken up some day from end to end. That sort of thing could be said of any, portion of Australia
– No one is opposing the idea but the honorable senator.
– If that were good country it would have been taken up years ago by men who would have been willing to spend money upon it. If it was anything like the country to be found in most other parts of Australia we should not have been able to get much of it to take up at the present time.
– Vast tracts of it have been taken up already.
– The reports from : these officers are quite to the contrary. Honorable senators coming here” from Western Australia make the statement that this country has been taken up, but it is not confirmed in the reports of special experts sent out by the Western Australian Government to secure information for Parliament.
– Quite so; we simply get the knowledge that grass grows in Western Australia without water.
– If Senator Henderson knew anything about some parts of Australia he would be aware that it does nol take an enormous quantity of water to make grass grow in them.
– I suppose creeks can be flooded without rain?
– No, butMr. Muir points out that in the creek to which he referred there had, in his opinion, been very little water for ten years. If he is telling us lies we cannot help it. He was an official sent out by the Government of Western Australia to report, and, if possible, to put the best side of the Western Australian case before this Parliament. Speaking of the geological formation of the country, he says - “ There are no hills of any magnitude, no lakes, and very few water-courses.”
We know that where there is any reasonable rainfall there are water-courses to be found. In the north and west of Queensland there are to be seen’ the channels of fairly large rivers. There may be no water in them at certain times, but there is evidence that largevolumes of waterflow down those river channels periodically. It might be once in six months or once in twelve months, but there are the watercourses, giving evidence that volumes of water have cut their way through the country.
-Mr. Muir does not say in his report that very little water went down the creek to which he referred in ten years.
– He says-
At some considerable time back a large volume of water must have gone down this creek in order to cut such a distinct channel through the country ; but judging by the decaye’d timber and debris lying in its bed this has not occurred for at least ten years.
– That is to say there had been no floods in the creek for ten years.
– That isexactly what I have said.
– The honorable senator said that very little or no water went down that creek for. ten years.
– I did not say that.
– The statement is probably put forward as showing that there are ho engineering difficulties, and that no bridges will be required in that country.
– I read the paragraph from the report word for word as it appears.
– And the honorable senator put his own construction upon it.
– It is certain that” I did not put Senator Needham’s construction upon it. I suppose that the construction he would put on that paragraphwould be that there was rain falling in that country all the year round. Mr. Muir says -
For 375 miles in the limestone country the porous nature of the soil precluded any hope of being able to conserve surface water.
That means that all that country, if it is settled, must be supplied by artesian or subartesian water. He saysagain -
At present there are millions of acres of splendid pastoral land lying idle in this portion of the State, solely because water has not been conserved.
That is not the same country as is referred to in the previous paragraph -
Once let it be known that artesian water has been discovered, and what is now nothing betterthan a waste would be transformed, in a veryshort space of time, into one of the most important stock-raising centres of our State.
No one begrudges Western Australia the possession of such country. Every one would be glad to see it prospected.
– The honorable senator will not give us a chance to prove it.
– Western Australia does not want to prove it - at least, not at her own expense. If that country is sogood, and I am not saying that it is not, plenty of people will be found ready to spend money in prospecting for water. There arehundreds of bores put down ire Western Queensland by lease-holders. I admit that at the start the Queensland Government put down two or threetrial bores, and proved that water existed. If” the Western Australian Government did the same thing, and proved that there wasa water supply that could be depended upon, they would be able to get this country taken up. That would be the best evidence theycould possiblysubmit to this Parliament, that it was a country withwhich railway communication should be established. The whole of the argument is that this piece of country exists which their own people are not able to say is good enough to-day for settlers to take up, although land has been taken up from one end of Australia to the other. Would people have gone to the north-west of Australia if there had been available good land in the south, near to shipping, with facilities for getting their wool and other produce away cheaply and regularly ? The position at present is that those who have gone into the north-west of Australia have their big market in the southern part of Australia. They have to send all their stock down south to find a market. If this land within a couple of hundred miles of thebig gest market in Western Australia is not thought good enough to be taken up by people who are looking for land every day, it is not fair to ask the Senate to call upon the people of Australia to bear the expense of proving that country in order to enable Western Australia to do ‘ something with it. The Western Australian Government at last thought fit to send a man’ out to see if water could be got. A report was furnished by Mr. H . C. Castilla on boring operations for water along the proposed route. He says -
Some 70 miles east of Twilight Cove -
That is a little way beyond Eucla - there is a place- called Madura, at which an attempt was once made by a company to establish a station. Buildings were erected and tanks made in the gorges, but the venture fell’ through, and the place has lapsed to the Crown, everything being in a very ruinous condition.
That was apparently the one person who thought it wise to try his luck in settling upon the land out from Eucla. Mr. Castilla started boring. He reports -
Boring for water at site No. 2, 60 miles from the coast and 30 north of Madura, 7th September, 1902, and water was struck at a depth of 411 feet on 19th December, 1902, the total depth bored being 430 feet. The water here was excellent slock water, and even fit for human consumption. This bore has since been equipped with a pump, boiler, and engine, and a large Metters storage-tank.
– That is not so bad.
– I am very glad that water was struck there by the efforts of the Western Australian Government, but honorable senators will notice the words -
Excellent stock water and even fit for human consumption.
There is no question of “ even “ when good drinkingwater is struck. The prospector will say candidly, and so would this man have done, not that it was only good stock water, but that it was fit for any purpose whatever. Another bore was put down 40 miles along the coast from Madura. This is what the report says -
Here boring operations were commenced, January, 1903, and completed in January, 1904, water suitable for stock being struck at a depth of 2,101 feet, the flow being 70,000 gallons.
While boring was proceeding I examined a large area of country, and selected a third site for boring go miles from the coast, and in the vicinity of Mr. Muir’s line of travel in1901. To this spot a certain amount of plant has been taken, but no boring has yet taken place.
He deals with the timber in that country. After speaking about a belt just inland from the coast, he says -
Clear of this belt, which is several miles wide, proceeding north, the country is nicely timbered with mallee; sugar tree, and mulga.
What conclusion must any one come to about a country covered with mallee and mulga? Every one knows perfectly well that mulga does not grow where there is a heavy rainfall, or, in fact, any sort of rainfall at all.
– Mulga can be found all over Western Australia.
– And all over western Queensland.
– The mulga in Queensland is all further west, in the country most liable to drought. The same thing applies, so far as I am able to gather, to the mallee country in Victoria. I am told that if the farmers there are able to get two crops out of five or six, they reckon they are doing remarkably well.
– There is mallee and mallee.
– I know that; but where you find that sort of timber growing in Australia you do not expect to find anything but a very dry stretch of country. In the face of reports such as this, submitted by men who have been sent out specially to gather this information, we are entitled to ask why the Western Australian and South Australian Governments are not prepared tospend their own money to secure information, more calculated to convince the members of this Parliament, that it is necessary to spend Commonwealth money on this railway. I have a report sent in by Mr. Gwynneth, who acted as Secretary to the Engineers-in-Chief of the -various States during their inquiry into this question.
– Anybody who takes his word will not have much to go on.
SenarorTURLEY. - I do not know anything about him personally ; but he referred in his report to other reports furnished to the Western Australian Government. I gather from them that the route recommended by. the Engineers-in-Chief would not only be very expensive, but would require a considerable amount of money to keep it clear, as Mr. Gwynneth says, of shifting sands. That gentleman evidently knows something about the country. He states that the route recommended by the Engineers-in-Chief is the longest they could find. It is 65 miles longer than the route he recommends below the Gawler Range. When we find ourselves in a position like this, knowing that it rests altogether with the South Australian Government to say, “ Unless you build the most expensive line possible, we shall not have anything to do with it; weshall not give our consent to its construction, and you cannot build it without our consent,” it should make us pause before we go any further. Senator Dobson dealt with the project from the point of view of defence, and gave the gist of Major-General Hutton’s report to the Minister of Defence on the proposed line from a defence point of view. The whole question appears to be whether we can enter upon an expenditure of , £5,000,000 in connexion with a project to transfer a number of troops which we do not yet possess. Would it notbe a long way better for us to secure the troops first? It is useless to make provision for transporting an army which we have not got. If we spend money first to get the troops, the representatives of Western . Australia will be able with far greater weight to argue, “You have in eastern Australia a large number of troops that we may require at some time to defend this part of the Continent, and you should help us to build a railway over which they can be carried. “ Major-General Hutton’s report shows that the money, to the expenditure of which we are asked to commit ourselves, could be far better spent in trainingour people to defend the country.
– If we had the troops to carry would the honorable senator still object to this survey?
– I should still object to the Commonwealth bearing the whole cost of constructing the railway. At the present time, the Federal Government are in this position, that if they want to send troops from any part of Australia, they can simply takecontrol of the State railways, and run them to the objective. If we take any part of the coast line exactly the same argument can be brought forward as is advanced in support of this railway project. For instance, the people on the north-west coast can say, “ It is necessary to have the means of bringing troops here in case we should have to defend this part of the Commonwealth.”
– So it is.
– That is not a sound argument for asking the Commonwealth to raise £150,000,000 or £200,000,000 with the object of running out a railway to every part of the coast. I do not think it is in the best interests of Australia to entertain the suggestion. From Coghdan, I propose to quote a few figures to show the position Queensland has been in for some years in regard to her railways. The cost of construction to the end of 1903-4 was £20,887,000. On that capital expenditure there had been an annual net loss ranging from 2.67 to 1.35 per cent, during a period of five years. Practically, the State had lost annually very nearly 2 per cent, on an investment of over £20,000,000 during a period of five years.
– Owing to bad management.
– No. Queensland invested that money with the object of opening up her territory to induce settlement, and providing better facilities for existing settlers.
– Did the better management of South Australia’s railways give better results?
– I do not think so.
– For instance, the line to Oodnadatta?
– That did not give much result.
– That is part of a national scheme for the benefit of South Australia.
– Senator Millen forgets that the line is part of a national schema which evidently is not intended to pay, and that South Australia can afford to go on losing 4 or 5 per cent, on the cost of that line year after year.
– We have carried the burden up to the present time.
– Yes ; and South Australia is very anxious to shift the burden on to somebody else.
-We are not too anxious.
– In my opinion South Australia is rather anxious to get the burden off its own shoulders. I do not think that it has been owing to mismanagement that the railway in the Northern Territory has been losing at the rate of from 3 to 6 per cent, on the capital cost ever. since it was constructed. Up to the period I named, Western Australia had expended on her railways £[8,955,000.
– Look at the private railways which they have.
– I a.m talking about the railways in one State on which there has been an annual loss of from £[300,000 to £[400,000, and -of the railways in another State on which there has been a clear annual gain of from .07 to 2.29 per cent, for the five years ending 1903-4. Yet the State which has been making an enormous profit on its railways comes down to the Federal Government and says, “ We are not prepared to pay even £[20,000 to get information regarding the country through which we want a railway, but we desire those States which have been losing hundreds of thousands a year on their railways to come in and pay their share, not only of the cost of making a survey, but also of the cost of constructing the railway.” It is preposterous to ask the people of Australia to agree to .a proposal of that kind. The Governments of Western Australia and South Australia can hand over the money to the Federal Government and ask them to carry out the survey of a route if they are not prepared to accept the statements of their own officers. Why should they ask the people of the States who are paying large sums annually to keep their railways running to contribute not on 1.v to the cost of a survey but also to the construction of the railway, especially as Western Australia is regarded to-day as practically the richest State in the Commonwealth? I came here with a clear and open mind on this question, but at the present time I am strongly opposed to the Federal Government carrying out a survey, and anything I can do to prevent the Bill from being passed I shall cheerfully do.
-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [9.2:1]. - I did not intend to intervene in the debate, but as one or two honorable senators have touched on the military aspect of the railway, I feel to a certain extent called upon to express my views on that point. I need hardly say that as regards the proposal being a practical undertaking, the bottom has been knocked out of it completely by Senators Turley and Givens.
– It never had a bottom.
N- From the stand-point of a practical man, I do not think that ir had. The statement that from a military point of view Western Australia should be brought into communication with . the eastern States, appeals to me. But I ask honorable senators to give that aspect a little more attention than it has hitherto received, and to realize what we are asked to do. We are asked to undertake the construction of a railway from Port Augusta, via Eucla, to Kalgoorlie. Every honorable senator who has paid attention to recent events in the East must realize that a naval power, if it has the command of the sea, and is able to deliver an attack, has the option of selecting the point of attack. The isolation of Western Australia presupposes the fact that we have lost the command of the sea. If that be so, I ask honorable senators, in all seriousness, to think over what this project means. It is practically a proposal torun a railway alongside the coast, and having lost the command of the sea we should be absolutely in the same position then as now. After having constructed the railway, our weak point would be at Eucla, which would be cut, when the western State would be separated from the eastern States, and we should ‘be as helpless as we were before.
– And we should have left a road for the invading enemy.
.- Yes. I ask honorable senators to give that point serious consideration. The expectation that the railway would enable the Federal Government to help Western Australia in case of a great emergency would not be fulfilled if we had lost the command of the sea. As we have the command of the sea, the present is not the time to waste money over such a project.
– Does not that apply to all Australia?
-Colonel CAMERON.- To a very great extent, it applies to parts of Australia.
– To every part ?
.- To a great extent, but more so to that part of the railway, because we should have no hinterland where we could raise a population, nor could we put troops at that point with any chance of preventing the invasion or the railway from being cut. That means that Western Australia would be entirely cut off. I ask honorable senators to consider the nature of the country around Eucla. Wa have had a clear exposition to-night that that country is absolutely unable to support either animals or human beings. Everything would have to be transported, .. because we could get. nothing on the spot, and how far should we have to transport things? We should have to transport our requirements 400 or 500 miles from Port Augusta, which would be under the whip of the enemy. What could we expect to get from Western Australia?
– Would the honorable senator leave Western Australia just as it is?.
-.Colonel CAMERON.- I am pointing out the difficulty of the situation. The military aspect does not enter into this railway project in the slightest degree. If it be necessary in the interests of Australia to construct a strategical railway to connect Western Australia with the eastern States, it must be constructed at a distance from the coast, so that there shall be nothing to impede the transport of troops.
– I was very pleased indeed to hear the various statements made for and against the proposal .to survey a route. It has been ably advocated, and just as ably denounced. No doubt Sir John Forrest has been the prime mover in getting the project advanced to its present stage. In his report he speaks very unfavorably indeed of the country to be traversed. ‘ I agree with the last speaker that if we were once to lose the command of the sea, a land force could cut the railway at a short distance from the coast, and that then we should be worse off than if we had no railway. I maintain that if the railway is constructed by the Commonwealth, and an enemy is able to take Western Australia, we shall have provided a means for them to come over to the eastern States. How would it have been during the Boer war if there had been no railway into Johannesburg and Pretoria? We know that the line to each place was destroyed, but the troops repaired the permanent way nearly as rapidly as the men could travel, and all the munitions of war and food supplies were transported by that means. How would aru enemy get over to this side of the Coralmonwealth ffrom Western Australia if we had no railway? I. do not believe that there is an army which could march over the t. .100 miles of country which has been described to us as a waterless, desert. If, however, it is as: good as the advocates- of the Bill have said, 1 am surprised that* the spirit of adventure which is so conspicuous in Western Australia has. not led to. the occupation and use of the country.
In parts of Queensland there is grass, but no water for stock. But country of that kind has been made available for settlement by putting down bores. The Government of the State showed the people how water was to be obtained on the table-lands, and then private enterprise came along, leased- the land from the Crown, put down bores, and put stock upon the properties. Why does not Western Australia follow that example? In Queensland we have spent millions of money in building railways. Year after year we have had a loss on them. But we do not come cap in hand to the Federal Government asking it to bear, the loss for us. We are surveying railways now, and I am perfectly satisfied that the Queensland Government is prepared at any time to meet the wishes of the Commonwealth and to allow a railway to be made to the Queensland border connecting with Western Australia. We already have - a line built to a distance of four or five hundred miles in that direction, and I am satisfied that there would be no obstacle to carrying that line right to the border. As Senator Cameron has said, if that were done there would be no hope for any enemy invading this country unless he fought his way in from the coast. Surely Western Australia, with her vast mineral wealth-, should not ask the Commonwealth to pay £20,000 for the purposes of such a survey as is proposed, in view of the fact that other States have carried out extensive railway works for the good of the country at their own expense. I should be very sorry to think that Western Australia, and South Australia were so impoverished as to be unable to undertake this work. Even if we spend the money, what guarantee shall we have that £20,000 will be sufficient? For my own part, I am satisfied that at least £30,000 will be required. I cannot understand the position of those honorable senators who, like Senator Gray, say that they will vote- for the Bill although they are opposed to the consTruction of the railway.
– I did not say 1 that. I said that I should vote for this Bill, but I would not pledge myself to vote for the railway, without knowing the conditions upon which it is to be constructed.
– South Australia and Western Australia want a line 1,100 miles long to be built at the cost of all Australia.
– They do not say that.
– But we know what they really want. If they do not mean what I have stated, the proposal is a farce. The aim and object is to get the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta built at the Commonwealth expense. If they are satisfied that the survey will prove that the railway will be a success, why do they not prove their bona fides by handing over £20,000 to the Commonwealth for the purposes of the survey ?It is all very well to say that this is a national question, and that we should approach it in a Federal spirit, butI notice that a number of honorable senators do not approach other questions in such a spirit. I am quite sure that if Queensland asked the Commonwealth to build a railway, or survey a line, for its benefit, many of those honorable senators who are now supporting this Bill would be the strongest opponents of the project. In fact, I should vote against it myself, because I do not believe in the principle.
– What would be the distance of the line to the Queensland border whichthe honorable senatorhas mentioned ?
– About 400 or 500 miles. I have spoken about it to members of the Queensland Government and Parliament, who have told me that they were quite prepared to support a proposal to build a line to the border without asking the Commonwealth for any money for the purpose. That is a very fair offer indeed. But how such a bare-faced proposal as that now before us can be. made, surpasses my comprehension.We are told that the line will traverse splendid land, where there is plenty of grass for stock, and that where there is grass there must be water. People who make a statement like that cannot have travelled over very much of Australia. Men accustomed to the bush knowperfectly well that there are hundreds of places where you can feed stock, but where you have toto 50 or 60 miles to get water. There are in Australia what are called grass Tains, which are quite sufficient to make the grass grow, but not sufficient in basalt or ‘limestone country to provide supplies of water. Country of that kind is of no use forstock unless surface water can be obtained, or artesian bores can be successfully put down. Now, as to the arrangement under which Western Australia entered the Federation, Senator Dobsonhas toldus, as a member of the Convention, thatno promise was either given orimplied that thisrailwaywould be built. It is quite true that certain prominent statesmen expressed the opinion that there should be a transcontinental railway, but they had no power to pledge the Commonwealth. The present Prime Minister has entered into an agreement with the Premier of South Australia with reference to the Northern Territory. But does any one imagine for a moment that the people of Australia are bound to carry out that agreement because Mr. Deakin has made it ?
– It was not even an agreement.
– He had no power to make : such an agreement, and if it were made I should, whether I was a supporter of the Government or not, vote against it. No individual, no matter what his position may be in the Commonwealth, has power to bind any Parliament. To say, therefore, that promises made by public men with reference to the transcontinental railway ought to bind this Parliament ‘is absurd. Queensland was not evenrepresented when fee promises were made.
– It was her own fault.
-It may have been; but as the people of Queensland are prepared to paytheir own debts and to borrow money for their own public works, their representatives in this Parliament have a right to object to the public works of another State being paid for out of Commonwealth funds.
– There is a moral obligation.
– Where is the moral obligation ? Who had the right to make a promise on behalf of this Parliament? If fifty promises were made, Parliament would be quite within its rights in brushing them on one side.
– The persons who made the promiseswere quite agreeable to expressing their own personal opinion, but they made no promises to their States.
SenatorGray. - They were representatives of States.
– I do not think that any State gave its representatives power (to enter into an understanding that Commonwealth money would be voted for making railways in any State. If certain men chose in an open-handed manner tomake large promises in the course of after-dinner speeches, when they were in a nice mood, that is no reasonwhy we should spend millionsof pounds to carry out their pledges. I heard a Minister oftheCrown say the other day, when asked a Question about a statement made ata banquet, “You cannot expect me to remember what I said then.” I acknowledge no moral obligation such as Senator Gray says exists.
– Promises were made on behalf of States by those who were entitled to make them.
– The honorable senator who interjects would be the last to contend that a promise made under such conditions was binding on this Parliament. He has got out of some tight corners in his time. There may have been a moral obligation on him to do something, but no doubt he saw a way round the corner and escaped. Queensland, at any rate, has made no promise, and is under no obligation. The State which the honorable senator represents will not even undertake to give permission for the construction of the railway; within its borders. So far as this Parliament is concerned, we have not a particle of evidence that if we voted the £20,000 to-morrow South Australia would allow the survey to be made. In spite of that, we are asked to pass this Bill, and take everything on trust. Would any man in conducting his own business make an agreement of that sort? Would he guarantee to spend £20,000 on a certain work without knowing whether some other person, who had the right to refuse, would permit him to spend it or not?
– Is it not worth £20,000 to secure the good-will of . Western Australia ?
– If £20,000 will buy the good-will of Western Australia, it is not worth much. However, I do not think it would.
– This is only an instalment.
– I am ‘very glad to hear Senator Story admit that this is only an instalment. I believe that the honorable senator is going to vote for the second reading of the Bill, and we now have his assurance that in voting for the expenditure of this £20,000 _he expects to have to sanction the expenditure of the other £4,500,000 or £5,000,000 later on. During the last forty-five years, I have known a number of railways to be built, and the estimates of their cost were not worth the paper on which they were written. The engineer’s ‘ estimates for railway lines have been exceeded times out of number, but when Parliament has been committed to the construction of a section of a line it has always been claimed that it must go on with the work. An en- gineer-in-chief and a number of experts in Tasmania estimated only the other day that a job that was to be undertaken in the city of Hobart would cost £80,000. The gentleman who has estimated the cost of this railway at £4,500,000 has admitted that, his estimate is, of course, liable to modification, but in the case of the. job in Hobart, to which I refer, engineers certified that if it were carried out according to the specifications, it could be done for £80,000, and done well. But what happened ? The authorities concerned had to come to the State Parliament, and ask for power to borrow another £100,000 for the work.
-Colonel Cameron. - Does the honorable senator refer to the Hobart drainage scheme?
– Yes, a simple job like that.
– Was it a “ job “ ?
– I do not know” whether it was a “ job “ in the sense the honorable senator suggests, but my point is that reputable engineers certified that a certain work “in the city of Hobart would cost only £80,000, and would consequently, require the levy of ai certain rate to pay for it. It is now found that it will cost more than double the amount estimated, and the unfortunate ratepayers who took the word of the experts will be called upon to pay the double rate.
– Is not that an exceptional case?
– The gentlemen who’ have submitted the reports on this railway admit that their estimates of expenditure are only guess-work.
– Then, of what use are any reports at all ?
– I have already said that half of them are not worth the paper on which they are written.
– Especially when they are written to order.
– I have known the State Government of Queensland to lay plans on the table for the construction of a line, not of 1,100 miles, but of a section of 50 or 60 miles - the line referred to by Senator Turley, from Warwick to Wallangarra. We were informed that there could be no doubt but that the line would pay. It has five or six feeders, and amongst them the Killarney line, which joins the main line at Warwick, and goes through some of the finest land in the dis- trice, and yet the line has never paid. We have been told that the proposed railway to Western Australia will pay. I think Senator Turley dealt fully with that matter. If we consider the passenger traffic from Brisbane to Sydney, or even from Sydney to Melbourne, we must know that for every passenger who goes by train ten go bywater. Senator Gray said that he would prefer to go the 1,100 miles by rail to Western Australia, I do not know whether the honorable senator has ever travelled 1,100 miles by rail through desert country. South Australia will not consent to the construction of this line unless it is built on a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge, and Senator Gray would certainly find a journey of 1,100 miles on a railway of that gauge a very long and wearisome one. I am afraid that he would find also that he would not get to his destination very much sooner by that means than he would by some of the new steam-boats on our coast. We have a turbine boat something like the Loongana running now between Brisbane and Townsville at 15 to 16 knots an hour. But through passengers from the north by that boat do not often get out at Gladstone to finish the journey by train, and sometimes when they do those who have remained on the boat reach Brisbane before them. With respect to the probable traffic on the proposed ‘ railway, I should like some honorable senator to tell me any product, with the exception of gold-bars or bullion, that it would pay to bring by railway from Western Australia to Adelaide. It must be remembered that the only traffic would be that between the termini in the two States of South Australia and Western Australia, since there is no settlement along the route of the line, and I ask honorable senators from Western Australia to say what produce would be brought from Kalgoorlie that could pay railway freight to Adelaide alone.
– Senator McColl is going to start dry farming in that country. ‘
– If Senator McColl has any money to spare, he should be advised to keep it, rather than to spend it in that way. We have heard! of passengers and freight that are to pa? the expenses of the proposed line, and I again ask honorable senators from Western Australia to say what produce other than gold or bullion could pay the freight for I,TOO miles.
– The honorable senator forgets the mails.
– They are not a product of Western Australia. No doubt the mails would be carried by the railway, but if this is to be a Commonwealth line, we should” be carrying our own mails on our own railway, and that would be merely taking the money out of one pocket and putting it into another.
– Would not the whole community benefit by having a speedier de- ‘ livery of mails?
– I say no. The community would not benefit to the tune of £4,560,000 or £5,000,000. Honorable senators from Western Australia have been calling out about the sugar bounty a great many times to-night, and I may inform them that we in Queensland have to bring the mails to their door, and as far as Sydney, and have afterwards to pay separately to bring our own mails to Brisbane. Is there anything of the Federal spirit about that ?
– What does Queensland pay for carrying the English mails to Western Australia ?
– She pays one-eighth of the total cost, whatever it is.
– She does not pay a single penny.
– Who does pay for it? Is it Western Australia?
– That is on a par with all the honorable senator’s statements, but any child knows different. I. am sorry to hear the honorable senator speak in that way, because he must know that towards the subsidy paid by the ^Commonwealth for bringing the mails from the Old Country to Australia Western Australia pays her share and no more according to population, and according to population also Queensland pays one-eighth of the total sum, whatever it is. We have iri addition to that to pay £2’I,000 every year to have our Queensland mails brought from Sydney to Brisbane. Western Australia gets the benefit of the calling of the mail-boats at Fremantle and along her coast without extra payment. That I suppose is done as a matter of Federal spirit. But they do not offer to help Queensland. They do not offer to bear any share of the extra amount which the people of that State have to pay, and which they object to pay. They are called upon to pay £21,000 to have then-emails carried from Sydney to Brisbane. Here we have a proposal for the expenditure of £20,000, and two great’
States like South. Australia and Western Australia come to the Commonwealth and beg that the whole of the States shall help to pay the amount for them.
– The mails do not go by steamer from Sydney to Brisbane.
– If there is no advantage in the speedy transport of mail matter,’ why not let the Brisbane mails goby boat instead of by train ?
– Simply because it costs the Commonwealth less “to send them by train. It must not be forgotten that mails are sent by the same train to Newcastle and other places in New South Wales and to Warwick and other towns in Queensland. If those mails; were sent on to Brisbane they would have to be sent back. Senator Gray asks me why the Commonwealth does not send the mailboats inland. I thought he knew a little more about his own State.
– They will be carried by balloon presently.
– I see by to-day’s newspapers that the Germans have been making a success of balloons, and really it is hardly worth our while to construct the proposed railway to Western Australia for the transport of troops when in all probability they will be transported By balloon before the railway is made.
– If the honorable senator does not desire a faster mail service for Queensland what is he complaining about ?
– We complain that while we have to pay our share towards the general subsidy for the carriage of Euro-‘ pean mails, we are asked to pay a special subsidy for the carriage of our own mails from Sydney to Brisbane.
– Queensland has not to payfor the carriage of Western Australia’s mail.
– Yes, we have to pay a portion of that cost.
– Not a farthing.
– The honorable senator might just as well tell me that I am saying what is not true.
– The honorable senator is not speaking on the Bill.
– Queensland has to pay an extra £21,000 a year to the mailboats for carrying a portion of the Queensland mails.
– She need not do so.
– I ask honorable senators not to interruptso much.
– I do not mind the interjections.
– The interjections side-track ‘the honorable senator, and I do not wish him to depart from the question.
– Honorable senators from Western Australia were willing that that State should pay a share of the cost of subsidizing a line of steamers to carrv the European mails, knowing that the boatsmust go as far as Sydney, but when it wassuggested that Queensland, as a part of theCommon wealth, should have the benefit of the service, we heard nothing of the Federal spirit which some honorable senatorswish to see exhibited now. We were told that if the mail steamers were to go on toBrisbane they could not complete the voyage within the contract time, but when the contract was finally settled it was found that the mail-boats could go on to Brisbane within the time to take the mails to and” from that port, and any freight that might be offering for an extra subsidy of £21,000 a year. Queensland has to pay that extra amount, and now honorable senators fromWestern Australia come here, and without a blush of shame ask us to help them to pay £20,000 for a survey of a route for the proposed transcontinental railway.
– To survey the route of a railway that we are not allowed to build.
– Thathas been stated so often that it is hardly worth while repeating it. None of the advocates qf this railway will tell us that we have the right to build it. They do not say what freight they expect to be carried on the line when it is constructed, and if they gave that information they might convert me and secure my vote for the proposal. I will not vote for it until I know what products are to be carried on the line. I want something more than a bare statement by some gentleman that the population will be doubled in tenyears and the line paying. That sort of thing is only clap-trap. The man who made that statement brought forward no proofs. The whole thing is only in his own imagination. That report was brought upto order. It is just the same when a Government want to construct a certain line to which they know there will be strongopposition. They send out surveyors with certain instructions, and the report is all infavour of the project.Honorable senatorson the other side are advocating this proposal, whether it is right or wrong. They can only see one side of it. I know that railways have cost £20,000 or £30,000 more than the estimate. I have known curves to have to be taken out after a line has been made, thus doubling the cost of construction. Experts can be obtained to make any assertion, and to bring down reports favorable to any scheme. I have seen prospectuses of gold mines issued by experts, and once the shares have .been taken up by the public, the expert cannot be found, nor- can any truth be discovered in his. report, although to read it one would believe that, one only had to go to the mine and pick up the gold. ‘ We can get the same sort of reports about railways. Most of the reports now before us are simply the opinions of individuals. If South Australia and Western Australia want us to pay a share of this expenditure, let them first prove to us that- they are genuine.
– How are they to prove it, when- the honorable senator will not believe anything anybody says?
– I believe that this country is uninhabitable and waterless. Sir John Forrest states that he went miles and miles without finding a drop of water. It is because I believe the reports that I object to this expenditure: I believe also what I read in the paper the other day from a man who signed his name, and stated that he traversed the country with camels. He showed that the country is simply not worth taking up. If this land is as good as certain honorable senators would have us believe, why are people going away thousands of miles from, the coast in the West to take up country which is not so good as the coastal country in Queensland? It is simply because they must have country of some sort. Why are men leaving Victoria and New South Wales to take up country in Queensland’, when there is in this district, in a much cooler zone, such splendid country quite as near to them as Queensland ? If that country is so good, how is it that nobody is willing to take it up, or that those who did lost their all upon it, abandoning it as waterless country- which they could do nothing with ? Let the Western Australian Government prove the country, just as Queensland proved that water could be got on her tablelands. Queensland did not ask the other States to help in that work, but put her hand in her pocket, and sunk three or four bores: Artesian water was proved’ to exist there, and the country was made available. That work ‘cost a good deal more than £20,060. Let Western Australia spend £20,000 to prove this country. If it is anything, like it is said to- be, Western Australia.- will soon get a big revenue from- it. Sir John Forrest’s report’, which honorable senators received to-day, tells us that there is good grass, but no water. I am sure the right honorable gentleman knows what that means. A shower will soak into the earth, and forty-eight hours afterwards there will be no sign of it, but it will bring up a good spring of grass. That grass does not live long-, and is no good. Stock cannot live on grass without water. ‘ Sir John Forrest himself has stated that the country is not fit to be stocked. He is a far-seeing man, and if the . land was available for stocking, being so near the gold-fields, where cattle bring a high price, he and others connected with him would have taken- it up and proved that it would carry stock if there had been a’ possible chance of it paying.
– Portion of it has been applied for now.
– Of course 1 That bears out my argument.
– It was applied for some time ago.
– I suppose it was applied for in the expectation that £20,000 or £30,060 would be spent in surveying it. We can. draw our own conclusions from that fact. This project has been in the air for several years, and there is_ an impression now that it will be carried this session. There will be a long fight before it is carried, but those people think there is a prospect of Commonwealth money being spent to open up the country, and’ that they may get somebody else to buy the land from thom. That sort of thing is often done by people who take up country in the hope of getting rid of it at a profit. There are men in New South Wales, and even in Queensland, who pay others to prospect for likely country.- Why do not people go out to prospect this land between Adelaide and Perth when we are told time after time that it is so good? We heaT that those who have gone there to settle and rear’ stock had to desert it for want of water. It is not right for the Government to ask us to vote this sum. I believe the Bill was defeated last year:
– It was only tricked.
– It will be a trick if it is carried now. I am- told that one honorable senator is now on the other side, and’ that the supporters of the Bill have a majority of one.
– Never prophesy until the numbers are up.
– I repeat what I have been told by the supporters of the Bill. If they can prove to me that they have the produce to carry on the line, or that there is any hope of it paying, I shall reconsider my decision.
– Whose report will the honorable senator believe?
– If the Western Australian Government will find the money and send men out to make a survey, I will believe their report. I am not going to vote blindly like the honorable senator. I should have been glad to support the Bill if I could have seen my way to do so in fairness to the State I represent, but I cannot for two reasons. One is that I honestly believe that this is only the thin edge of the wedge, and that if I supported it, I should be in honour bound to support the Bill for the construction of the line if the report was favorable. Several honorable senators have said that they will support the survey, but not the construction, because they do not think it would pay through that country. I do not see why they should support one and not the other. If I could honestly support the survey, I should feel bound to support the construction, but I cannot support either, because it is not right or just for Western Australia and South Australia to ask the other States to put their hands in their pockets to prospect this country for them.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
– I have to announce that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has appointed 2 o’clock to-morrow as the time when he will receive, at Government House, the Address-in-Reply to the speech with which he opened Parliament. It is proposed to leave here at about twenty minutes to 2 o’clock to-morrow. I shall be pleased if honorable senators will make it convenient to attend with me to present the Address.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until to-morrow at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 10.15p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070731_senate_3_37/>.