4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator VARDON presented three petitions from 47, 39, and 7 taxpayers respectively in the State of South Australia praying the Senate to reject the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government here, whether, in view of the frequency of railway accidents in Victoria, and the consequent risk of danger to members of this Parliament in travelling to and from Melbourne on duty, the Government have considered the advisability of covering the risk by taking out an accident policy during the remainder of the session?
– I advise the honorable member toget aflying machine.
– Since Thursday last, when the question to which I am about torefer was brought before the Senate, I have carefully considered my position, and I now desire as concisely as I can to make a statement. I see that in making reference to a conversation with two honorable senators who are members of the Labour party, I committed a grave error. To that admission, sir, without qualification, I add my regret, and if any words which I could use would serve the purpose, I desire that they should be used and understood to withdraw the reference which I then made. I may perhaps add that it was made rapidly, in answer to a question - without premeditation, but I as a public man find in such circumstance no excuse. I have endeavoured to-day to apply to myself a code I hope at least as stringent as I would apply to any other man in a similar case.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) agreed to-
That thereport from the Printing Committee presented to the Senate on the 15th September, 1910, be adopted.
Debate resumed from 9th September (vide page 2876), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator St. Ledger had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “no Bill is acceptable to this Senate which contains provisions binding the Commonwealth to any railway policy in respect to the Northern Territory.”
– I view this question from the national stand-point from which my honorable friends desire to view other matters. If I were desirous of regarding it from the view-point of the States I should certainly vote for the amendment. The desire of some people in Queensland and New South Wales is that the railway should go through those States. From the defence point of view I support the proposal of the Government to construct the railway through the centre of Australia. I shall not pay heed to pamphlets which have been circulated with the object of showing that the Northern Territory is a veritable Garden of Eden, nor do I attempt to attach importance to those who say that it is nothing better than a barren waste. I view the question purely from a national stand-point. I think it necessary to have the north connected with the south by the most direct route. I also desire to see the Northern Territory peopled by a white race, and shall assist the Government in taking the initiatory steps to attain that end. Speaking some time ago, I stated that honorable senators opposite, or some of their party, were not desirous of having the Territory peopled by white men. Members of the Opposition denied that that was their attitude, and I believed them. But, unfortunately for them, there is a section of the party to which they belong that has expressed the definite opinion that the Northern Territory should be peopled by coloured races. While I was seeking the suffrages of the people of New South W’ales I pointed this out to them as forcibly as I could. Of course the facts had never been brought before them by the press, and it was necessary that we, who were candidates, should do so j and I believe that in our humble way we succeeded. I now desire to prove what I said, because I realize that it is useless to make assertions of this description unless one is prepared to support them by evidence. I shall quote from a report published in the Melbourne Herald, of 24th October, 1907, of the proceedings of the Women’s National League Conference, at which dele-‘ gates from all the anti-Socialistic women’s organizations in the Commonwealth were represented. I shall not quote the names of the ladies who spoke at the Conference, because it is not necessary to do so, but they can be found in the Herald of the date mentioned, if any honorable senator opposite desires to see them. A lady from New South Wales moved the following resolution -
That while the Conference approves of the principle of a White Australia from ;> racial point of view, it considers that the importation of coloured labour is necessary for the development of the tropical territory.’
This lady said -
That there were two points of view in connexion with this subject. One was the claim on behalf of a perfectly white community, and the other was the best means of developing the tropical territory, especially the Northern Territory, which was now going to waste because of the prejudice against coloured labour. They might easily arrive at a solution of the difficulty, though she did not say positively that they could. They must not think that because they were women they were unable to solve it. If they were to draw a geographical line for the restriction of coloured races they could certainly be allowed within the greater’ part of the tropical territory. There were thousands of the King’s Indian subjects who would be suitable for the work in this territory, and might be allowed in with their families. ‘ If they were to come to develop that territory they would do much towards providing work for a white population.
A lady from Toowoomba seconded the motion. She said that -
The sugar-growing industry in Queensland was now languishing because of the difficulty in obtaining labour. The demand now greatly exceeded the supply. The industry was going out of Australia. She agreed with the motion so far as it was possible, and believed that it was possible, with discretion, to get in coloured labour.
Another lady from Queensland said that -
This was a very important subject, especially in Queensland. That State had accepted the verdict of the other States, and it was trying to manage in the best way it could ; but it did not seem quite fair that the Kanakas, who were the most harmless of the coloured races, should be the only ones removed. In the Mackay district women and children were now to be seen working in the cane-fields. Children who should be at school were obliged to help to make a living.
A lady from Brisbane said that -
She had had a conversation with a leading sugar-grower, who said that the outlook was most serious, owing to the class of white labour available. It was very low. Now, in the cane districts, the domestic servants were afraid to go out at night, and the heads of families dare not take their eyes off their children. The men were a floating class, and included many excriminals. The wages were good, but the work hard. The men made a cheque and then spent it at the public houses. When these facts as to the danger to women and children were known, it would be seen that it was a very serious matter. The Kanakas, on the other hand, were to be trusted absolutely.
Another lady said -
When quite a girl she lived in Java, and there she saw all black people. There were Kanakas, Solomon Island “boys,” and others with loin cloths, and bows and arrows, and they looked like savages. When they came up to the house she was told that they knew she was coming, and this was their way of giving her welcome. The
Kanaka in Queensland, however, had been civilized and Christianized, and yet they were deported because’ they had no gun-boats. Australia would not dare to insult China or Japan in that way. The white men now employed were of bad character and unreliable.
A lady from Adelaide said that -
She agreed that the King’s Indian subjects should be admitted to the Northern Territory. The subject was one of importance to all Aus- tralia. The colour line should take in the greater portion of the Northern Territory, a great part of North Queensland, and part of the north of West Australia.
The mover of the motion, speaking in reply, stated that she -
Did not agree with the remark that there was no chance of the Kanaka coming back. They should put in a Liberal Ministry favorable to the Kanaka, and then the thing would be done.
The resolution was unanimously agreed to. I admit that honorable senators opposite are not responsible for what is said by their women folk. But, of course, the dear creatures are very plain and outspoken as to what they expect from a “ Liberal Government.” I support this Bill purely from a national point of view. I believe that the north ought to be connected with the south in the most direct way. A map has been sent to me to show me how a railway could be built connecting the Northern Territory with Sydney by way of Bourke. I do not support that view. I prefer to view this matter from a national stand-point, and, in my opinion, the necessity for the defence of Australia is above every other consideration.
. - Some honorable senators have expressed the opinion that to carry the amendment moved by Senator St. Ledger would be to defeat the objects of this Bill, but all that would happen would be that this Parliament would not be bound to take over any railways, except those in the Northern Territory, and would not be bound to construct a railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta by a certain route. This matter has been discussed during several sessions. On the last occasion when it was submitted to this Parliament, the present Prime Minister voted against the proposal. He is now at the head of a Ministry that has introduced a Bill to give it effect. We have been repeatedly told that the people of South Australia are opposed to the surrender of the Territory to the Commonwealth. If that be so, some persons have been very persistent in bringing the proposal before this Parliament. It has already been twice defeated, and now a third effort is being made to push it through. I cannot understand the statement that the people of South Australia do not desire that the Commonwealth should take over the Territory, when we find every representative of the State in this Parliament doing his utmost to secure the passage of a Bill to compel the Commonwealth to take over the Territory on the terms submitted by the South Australian Government.
– Who told the honable senator that the people of South Australia were against the proposal?
– I have heard the statement made repeatedly in this Chamber.
– A section of the people may be opposed to it.
– I believe that Senator Guthrie is one of those who have said that South Australia does not wish to surrender the Territory, and would prefer to keep it.
– I have said nothing of the sort.
– We have heard that public meetings have been called in South Australia to protest against the transfer. I must say that if the people of that State do not wish to lose the Territory they have my sympathy. I do not see why the Commonwealth should force South Australia to surrender the Territory.
– In the interests of Australia.
– Here is one of the three tailors of Tooley-street again. Honorable senators opposite are all nationalists when it suits them. At every other time they are not nationalists. I am heartily sick of hearing that this and the other question is a national question. I am reminded by the attitude adopted by honorable senators of the three tailors of Tooley-street, who said of themselves, “We,” the people of England.”
– The nationalist cry is better than the cry of the State Rights party.
– Here is another honorable senator from little Tasmania who proposes to tell us what is the national view of the question. The other States are building their own railways, are opening up and developing their own territory, though they have had to borrow money to do so, and why should they be saddled for all rime with the debt incurred by South Australia in connexion with the Northern Territory? This Bill is thrown on the table, and we are expected to find out for ourselves what it means. Before the measure reached the present stage the Government should have told the Senate, and especially the people, how they propose to settle the Northern Territory. They should say what it is likely to cost, and whether they intend to settle it with whites or with blacks.
– The members of the Government are not prophets.
– Surely they should be able to give this information when they submit a Bill which, according to a Melbourne newspaper in which they have recently come to believe, will involve an expenditure of£15, 000,000.
-Here is another nationalist. My argument does not suit the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator does not mind a million or two of expenditure.
– I am glad that I am stirring up honorable senators opposite a little.
– The honorable senator is only making assertions. He is not using arguments.
– Senator Rae never makes anything else but assertions, and desires to measure every one by his own bushel. I am using arguments. This is a proposal which affects the whole Commonwealth. It is no mere assertion to say that if we take over the Northern Territory we shall have to pay so many millions sterling to South Australia, including over £1,000,000 for the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek, because that is what is proposed by the Bill. The railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek is only 1411/2 miles in length, and if the Territory is taken over it will cost the Commonwealth, as it has already cost South Australia, over £1,000,000.
– Is the honorable senator sure of that? He is including the cost of jetties and wharfs.
- Senator Vardon is another South Australian representative. He does not want to see this Bill passed, but he is going to vote for it. Roughly speaking, the railway to which I refer cost £7,000 a mile to construct. Senator Rae is a Labour man who believes in a White Australia and in paying good wages. That is what he says on the hustings. But here he is prepared to advocate that the Commonwealth should take over a railway which was mainly built by Chinese and which cost £7,000 a mile to construct.
– The labour of Chinese is as dear as the labour of white men.
– It seems that the contractors could not get white men and they had to employ Chinese.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– I am not wrong. I can inform Senator McGregor also that Chinese were employed in the construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.
– The honorable senator is wrong again.
– I have the statement from the engineer employed in building the railway, and from the contractor for the line that they employed over 500 Chinese in building the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake.
– I can give proof of my statement. When an honorable senator is putting facts before the country that are unpalatable to honorable senators opposite, he is met with a stream of interjections.
– The honorable senator’s facts, like his statements, are wrong.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has servants behind him to hunt up information, and will be able to disprove my statements if they are incorrect.
– Does the honorable senator not think that some of the Chinese came across the border into the Northern Territory from Queensland?
– It is more likely that they came from the honorable senator’s State. But no matter where they came from, they built the railway. I believe they were brought to South Australia for the purpose of constructing the railway. Now we are asked to take over this Chinamanbuilt railway, and to pay for it by the taxation of the white people of Australia. In Queensland we build railways, but we do not ask the people of the other States to pay for them.
– At the present time, there are private railways in Queensland upon which Chinamen are working, and the lines are bounty fed.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council should inform the
Senate how the Government intend to people the Northern Territory. If business persons were handling a scheme for its acquisition - a scheme which would involve the expenditure of millions of pounds - they would naturally have made up their minds as to how they proposed to develop it. They would have decided whether it was to be settled with white, black, ot yellow people, and they would have resolved whence those people were to be obtained.
– We cannot deal with those questions in this Bill.
– I do not want the honorable senator to be constantly yapping at me. He will have ample opportunity to express his own views upon this measure. Surely the Government have made up their minds whence they intend to obtain the people to settle this Territory. Are they to be immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa, or America? The Ministry ought further to be in a position to tell us the estimated cost of settling these persons in the Northern Territory. But, upon these points, we have no information. We are simply asked to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure which, according to the Age of to-day, will amount to at least ^15,000,000. Is that fair to honorable senators and to the country ? The Government should, at least, furnish honorable senators with an approximate estimate of the cost of settling the Territory, and they should also inform us of the manner in which they intend to dispose of its lands. According to the journal which I have just mentioned, 2,000,000 acres of the best lands of the Territory are already held under long leases.
– How many million acres does the Territory contain?
– Is it the policy of the Government to build a railway for the purpose of enhancing the value of these large estates ? Only the other day, I read an advertisement in the Northern Miner, which set out that two properties which are held by one man, and which embrace an area of 5,000 square miles, are to be offered by auction, and that they are held at the very low rental of about is. 3d. par square mile.
– What is the tenure?
– Forty-two years. The Government might, further, furnish us with an estimate of the cost of constructing a railway from Pine Creek to the Macdonnell Ranges or Port Augusta. I presume that any such line will be built by white labour. I trust that it will never be constructed by Chinese labour. The Government ought to pay those engaged upon any such undertaking a decent wage. I agree with Senator Guthrie that Chinese labour is not cheaper than is white labour. We cannot expect a railway to be built through a waterless desert, such as a great portion of this country is, at less than £7,000 per mile. Yet we are studiously denied information in regard to the estimated cost of such a line. We are asked to shut our eyes and boldy swallow the Bill which the Government have submitted. I understand that, within the last day or two, a petition has been presented to the Government of South Australia, urging them not to part with the Northern Territory. I wish to say, on behalf of the people of Queensland, that we do not desire to be taxed for the purpose of building a railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta. We are quite willing that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory, and reimburse South Australia for any legitimate outlay which she may have incurred upon it. If the Commonwealth does accept that Territory, it will have to re-lay the whole of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. That line has been constructed with 40-lb. iron rails, which are practically out of date. It has been urged that the building of a railway from Port Darwin to Oodnadatta will expedite the transit of our over-sea mails. But I am informed that if the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway be constructed, those mails will never be landed at Port Darwin. They will be delivered at Fremantle, whence they will be conveyed by rail to Adelaide and the eastern States.
– What mails?
– The mails from Great Britain, India, and elsewhere. The railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek was built many years ago, and experts declare that the whole of it will have to be re-laid.
– It will have to be rebuilt.
– Light 40-lb. iron rails are incapable of standing the wear and tear which would be imposed upon them bv fast-running trains. If the Commonwealth takes over the Northern Territory, it must build a railway through that country which will permit of trains running at a faster speed than 10 or 15 miles an hour. The scheme, I submit, will cost a great deal more than the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have us believe. Are honorable senators going to pledge themselves to the large expenditure which the acceptance of this Bill will involve? Senator Ready interjected the other day that he was not pledged to a vast expenditure on the Capital site, but that will be a mere bagatelle compared with the burden imposed upon Tasmania if this project is taken in hand. In one case the cost is estimated at £1,000,000 or £1,500.000, and in the other at £20,000,000. How can he reconcile his actions when he goes before the people of his State?
– I understood the honorable senator to say that the Northern Territory would involve the Commonwealth in an expenditure of £15,000,000.
– Oh, but £5,000,000 is nothing to Senator Sayers.
– £15,000,000 is the estimate published in the Age, but that is only a speculative one. Estimates of cost are unreliable. I know of a case where the cost of work was not to exceed . £80,000, and the greatest expert who could be got put down the cost at £60,000, in order to allow a margin of £20,000 to meet unforeseen expenses.
– Why quote an estimate which was unreliable?
– In that case men had been over the ground, and sunk holes and tested the probable cost in every possible way. But the work, instead of costing less than £80,000, cost , £180,000. In this case we have no information on which we can rely in estimating the cost, and the Senate is asked to vote money in the dark. The other day the estimated cost of another railway proposal was quoted, and since a certain Bill was defeated here the estimate has been reduced by £600,000 by other engineers. The Engineers-in-Chief for the various States, except Tasmania, estimated the cost of the railway at £4,000,000, but the EngineersinChief of South Australia and Western Australia - the two States which are interested in its construction - have since reduced the estimate by £600,000. We can place no reliance on any estimates which are brought down here, because they are submitted, not to inform honorable senators, but to delude them into passing a measure which, in their sane moments, they know will involve twice the estimated expenditure. Can any honorable senator tell me within a million what the acceptance of the Northern Territory is likely to cost the Commonwealth? No. Before the Senate is asked to vote the money it should be furnished with a proper guarantee that the various works will be carried out for a certain sum. At present we have no idea of what it will cost the Commonwealth to settle the Territory. That is not the way in which the affairs of this country should be handled; it is not a business-like method. Glowing word-pictures of the Territory have been presented to us. We have been told that it is a land flowing with milk and honey, with a railway for a distance of 145 miles from Port Darwin to Pine Creek. According to what I have heard and seen the railway to Pine Creek should pass through some of the best watered country in the Territory, but the land has been lying practically idle ever since the railway was built. I know a number of men who went to Port Darwin from Queensland at the time of the rush- I have received many accounts of the country and its possibilities, but, according to their description, it is very poor. They were prepared to settle in that part of the continent if they could find suitable land, but they had to return to Queensland. Suppose that the Commonwealth did bring out 8,000 or 10,000 immigrants, by what means could they be kept in the Northern Territory ? There is no possible means by which that could be done. Surely we do not want to bring out a number of slaves who could not move away from the Territory. Surely it will be recognised that if any immigrants were brought out they would all move to parts of Australia which were more prosperous. They would not stay in the Gulf country, because fever is very prevalent. Sickness of all descriptions would drive away persons who were not acclimatised. I admit that in years to come native-born Australians, who have been acclimatised, will settle this land. But that will not take place until the best portions of Australia, which are now open to settlement, are settled and peopled. Even if the Commonwealth brought out 20,000 persons, I venture to predict that within three years from the date of their arrival not one- third of them’ would be found in the Northern Territory. Surely the Government are not well advised in seeking authority to open up the Territory on the plea that by that means they will prevent an invasion of the Commonwealth? All that our worst enemy would ask us to do would be to make a railway. If we destroyed the line at the approach of an enemy, they could repair it and move south. The water supply is not plentiful; there is no general under the sun who if strong enough to attack Australia would fritter away his strength in the north-west portion of the continent, when he could move into some of the settled portions and demand a ransom. If it were not a mere privateering expedition the invader would go down south. If the attacking nation is” really strong they are not likely to land at Port Darwin ; but if honorable senators want an enemy to land there and to show them the way down to the settled parts, then let them build a railway through the desert country.
– Every railway would help an enemy if it got hold of it.
– It is proposed to construct a railway through a desert country. Fortify Port Darwin as much as you like, and what is to prevent an enemy from landing at Burketown or Normanton, and proceeding south through a well-watered country carrying millions of sheep and cattle? Why should he land in the Northern Territory at all when he has the opportunity of proceeding south through a magnificent country providing beef and mutton for- his army? Why have we thrown at us this bugbear that the acquisition of the Northern Territory is desirable for defence purposes ? What enemy would land in the Northern Territory with the knowledge that it would provide no supplies to help him as he proceeded south? Surely it is childish to put forward that plea as one of the reasons for completing the railway. Any man can see from a glance at the map that by landing at a place in the Gulf the enemy would be 500 or 600 miles nearer south.
– Tom Sayers was a fighter, but Bob Sayers is a military expert.
– I am a fighter, but I do not want the Commonwealth to fortify a place in a no man’s land. Do not fortify a place which is uninhabited. Spend the money in fortifying Australia - on land defence and on ships - but do not waste millions of pounds in building a railway in a no man’s land. Spend £15,000,000, if you have it to throw away, on ships which will look after the protection of the coast. That would be a far better scheme than the construction of a railway to open up this country at present. The Queensland Government have built a railway from
Townsville to Cloncurry, that is to within 200 miles of the border of the Territory, and are prepared to complete the work.
– Why do they not? It would pay the State.
– It has paid us so far, and we shall build the rest of the line when it pays us to do so. Queensland has another railway going out from Rockhampton to Longreach, and one from Charleville to Cunnamulla. The people of that State did not ask this Parliament to build these railways at the expense of the Commonwealth. Again, Queensland built a railway from Rockhampton to the Tweed Heads, and to Wallangarra, on the border of New South Wales. It did not come to this Parliament and say, “ This is a national question; why did you not build these lines for us or pay us for building them?” New South Wales and Victoria pursued the same policy as ‘did Queensland in railway construction. South Australia built a railway to the border of Victoria, but now she wants a railway built to trie Territory at the Federal expense. I hold in my hand a pamphlet entitled the “ North-South Transcontinental Railway,” and written by Mr. J. G. Gwynneth, C.E. He was an engineer for a portion of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and I take it that he knows as much about the country as does any man here or outside. He has had practical experience, and he condemns the route. He says it is the worst route we could possibly choose, and adds -
For defence purposes the route and gauge render it unworthy of consideration, beyond that it would be a source of danger.
Not only is the route unworthy of consideration, but the railway would be- a source of danger when it was constructed.
Suppose, for instance, certain circumstances arose necessitating the hasty despatch of troops from all the principal headquarters of the various States to Port Darwin. None could be taken by rail from Townsville in Queensland. Those going from Rockhampton would require to travel 2,iS6 miles in a south-east, south, southwest, and north-westerly direction - in fact, all round the coast, which at present occupies eighty hours, actual travelling - before reaching Adelaide, their final point of departure for the north, a further distance of 2,000 miles, occupying a further eighty hours at twenty-five miles an hour.
If we complete the line, it will take the troops eighty hours, travelling twenty-five miles an hour, to reach the point of danger. How will they feed and water the troops ?
– Eighty hours from where to get to Port Adelaide?
– He is a great engineer who would bring them that way.
– In what other way is he to bring the troops if the Ministerial scheme is carried out ?
– In air-ships.
– I believe that this is an air-ship scheme. Thus the total journey would be 4,186 miles. Is it not absurd to try to make us believe that it would take only 160 hours to convey troops all the way round from Townsville to Port Darwin? This estimate allows no time for stoppages or for re-training on account of break of gauge.
– It allows nothing for accidents.
– I am glad that the honorable senator has called attention to that point. In Tasmania last year there was a sham fight in the presence of Lord Kitchener. There was a blockage on a single-line railway, with the result that a number of horses and a quantity of material were damaged. In the present case it is assumed that troops could be taken 4,000 miles without any risk of accident. If an accident took place, God knows when they would arrive at their destination. . Long before the 160 hours had expired the enemy would have constructed earthwork’s, and, protected by his fleet at sea, would be able to securely hold his own against any force that we could send against him. The argument on the ground of defence is simply absurd. There must be some other reason at the bottom of the proposal which is not apparent to some of us. No one knows anything about the country in which we are asked to construct a railway.
– The honorable senator himself knows nothing about it. I have been in the country in question quite as much as he has, and have a considerable knowledge of land corresponding to it in the same latitude in western Queensland. South Australian senators tell us that it is desirable to populate the Northern Territory.
– If it is not populated we shall have no real defence.
– Can we justify such a scheme until we know in what way it is proposed to populate the Territory, and what we are going to do with it when we get it? Is it to be populated by farmers or by squatters? At present the population is dwindling. At one time there were 20,000 Chinese in the Northern Territory, but now there are not more than 2,000. Even the Chinese could not live there. Are we to take a leap in the dark, and trust to Providence afterwards? I believe that South Australia made a’ great mistake when she undertook to develop the Territory.
– She kept it white.
– She did nothing of the kind. Once there were more Chinese in the Northern Territory than in anyother part of Australia. At the time of the Port Darwin rush the Chinese could enter the Territory in unlimited numbers, but they soon found that they could not make a living there. It was not the South Australian Government, but the poverty of the country that drove them out. Their numbers have now dwindled down to a paltry 2,000, and there are not’ more than 1,000 whites in the Territory.. That is the land that is represented as flowing with milk and honey.
– The Chinese did not gather up the milk and honey.
– Because they could not find it. There are in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales young Australian natives who would be only too glad if there were in the Northern Territory lands available to be taken up and used. But the best land has already been taken up by lessees of large areas. We are asked to make a railway so that in ten or fifteen years these large, leaseholders may sell out, and make a large fortune.
– We are not going to burst up the large estates in the Northern Territory.
– No, ‘ this is a Bill to benefit a few millionaires who havepicked the eyes out of the country, and hold it under lease from the South Australian Government. There is a provision in the Bill which shows that my argument is pretty near the truth. Clause ro provides that -
All estates and interests, held by any person from the State of South Australia within the Northern Territory at the time of the acceptance, shall continue to be held from the Commonwealth on the same terms and conditions as they were held from the State.
I was told some time ago by the Honorary Minister that we could resume these leasehold properties for agricultural purposes. There is no possible chance of land on the Barklay tableland or in the interior of the country being used for agriculture at present. In fact, the land is hardly good enough for the rearing of cattle or sheep. But we know that the large estates there would be worth a great deal of money if the holders could sell out. This is a scheme for foisting upon the Commonwealth a plan whereby a number of wealthy owners can make a large amount of money out of the people. I do not believe that that is the real intention, but I am sure that that will be the effect if the Bill be passed in its present form. Clause 15 deals with railway construction. It says that -
The Commonwealth may construct or authorize the construction of or cause to be constructed a railway westerly from any point on the Port Augusta railway through South Australia proper to any point on the western boundary line of South Australia proper, by a route to be determined by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, with all proper stations, approaches, works, and conveniences connected therewith and necessary therefor, and may maintain and work such railway when constructed.
The point that I desire to make in regard to that clause is that, not only is South Australia being permitted to instruct us as to where the railway shall be, but when we build it we shall not even have a voice as to the freights. We cannot alter them without the consent of the South Australian Government. Is it fair to the people of. the Commonwealth that they should be taxed to build a railway for the Benefit ot South Australia, and then, if the Commonwealth Government find that the freights are not sufficient, that if shall be unable to increase them without the consent of that State? We have heard much about the Commonwealth being leg-roped. But under this scheme the Commonwealth will be bound hand and foot.
– We hear a lot of rubbish about the question.
– The South Australians are they who talk the rubbish. Of course, from their point of view they are quite right. They speak purely as State Righters. In this matter they represent South Australia only, and what happens to the rest of the Commonwealth is a mere bagatelle in their eyes. As long as they can get the railway constructed on their own terms, so as to suit Adelaide, they are content.
– The honorable senator knows that that statement is not true.
– Order ! Senator Story must withdraw that term.
– I withdraw the expression.
– I have stated nothing that is not justified by the Bill before us. If Senator Story can show that my statement as to freights is not correct, 1 shall be glad to hear him.
– It is the improper attitude attributed to the South Australian senators that I object to.
– If I were a South Australian I should object also.
– Then, the honorable senator admits that he holds a brief?
– No, I do not; but if I were a South Australian I am sure I should act as they do. Not being a South Australian I can take an independent view of the matter. On a former occasion, when I spoke on this subject, I pointed out that 5,700 square miles in the Northern Territory were held by one company for forty-two years at a rental of £s°3 5s- Per annum. On that land there were 4,800 sheep and cattle, more or less, though the persons who were offering the estate for sale would not guarantee the number. The Commonwealth Government would not be able to interfere with thi.” estate until the lease of forty-two years expired.
– The Government could, according to the honorable senator’s former statement, buy out the owners at is. 6d. per square mile.
– The estate to which 1 refer was offered for sale in’ Sydney. I do not know what it realized, but I do know that all that the Commonwealth Government would derive from it would be a rental nf id. per 40 acres. That speaks for itself. The people of Australia may judge of the prospects of the development of this country when we find, that land on the Barklay tableland, the best in the Territory, returns to the Government only id. for 40 acres.
– With a lease of only twenty-one years.
– With a lease of forty-two years. I read the statement from an advertisement.
– I helped to pass the Act.
– The honorable senator claims to know everything, from going to sea before the mast, to passing Acts of Parliament dealing with the pastoral industry. The fact remains that the South Australian Government receive a rental of only id. per annam for 40 acres. According to the advertisement which 1 quoted on a previous occasion, the term of the lease offered for sale was forty-two years.
– A paper was laid on the table of the Senate not long ago showing that the majority of the leases were originally for that period.
– Some are for twentyone years, and others with a right of renewal.
– The advertisement to which I refer stated that the run was to be sold at the Stock Exchange, Sydney, and the term of the lease was forty-two years. 1 take it that the auctioneers were satisfied about the title before they guaranteed it. In the circumstances, it is absurd for honorable senators opposite to question my statement, without proof to the contrary.
– The honorable senator believes every advertisement to be authentic.
– I know that the purchaser would have a good cause of action against the auctioneers if, after he had made his purchase, he found that the lease was for only twenty-one years. The firm offering the run. for sale was one of the largest in Sydney, and” they would not be likely to have made such a mistake. I maintain that the country is no good. The railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek was constructed many years ago, but no settlement has taken place along it. The first 145 miles of railway constructed in Queensland was soon followed by a large amount of settlement. According to the map, this line runs through some of the best watered portions of the Northern Territory, and 1 should like to know whether the Minister in charge of the Bill, or any honorable senator opposite, can say why there is no settlement along that railway.
– There is settlementthere.
– There may be a porter or two, and a few Government officials living along the line. We know that the whole white population of the Territoryis only about 1,000, and most of those people are Government officials. The balance of the population is made up of 2,000 Chinese; and if Senator Story means to infer that there is Chinese settlement along the line, I am disposed to believe him. We have heard a great deal about the minerals that are in the Northern Territory. I do not dispute that there are minerals there; but it has yet to be shown that they have teen discovered in payable quantities. We know the history of the gold-fields of Australia. We ki,ow that there has been very little settlement within hundreds of miles of fields when they were discovered. Prospectors do not wail lor the construction of railways to discover minerals. There were no railways in Victoria, New South Wales, or Queensland in the districts in which gold was first discovered in those States. I know that, for many years past, men have been prospecting the Northern Territory; but, up to the present, they have found nothing payable. It is true that there are minerals to be found there.
– How does the honorable senator know?
– Because I have seen tin from a mine which, I believe, -is principally worked by Chinese, and I have also seen a small parcel of gold from the Northern Territory. But valuable minerals have not yet been discovered there in payable quantities. Yet the presence of minerals in the Territory is held out as an inducement to us to take it over from South Australia. We know very well that if gold were found in the Territory in payable quantities to-morrow, no railway we could construct would do as much to open up and develop the Territory. If gold were discovered in payable quantities in the Northern’ Territory, white men would soon find their way there and open up the country.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ payable quantities “?
– Enough to pay a living wage, and a little over. Men will not go into a desert to work for 5s. or 6s. a day. They will not work under such conditions for a Chinaman’s wage. We know that Chinese will work on the goldfields for 2s. 6d. a day, or on a deserted mineral field. Senator Story said that a statement I made was not true, and Senator Guthrie contended that the leases of the runs in this country were only for twenty-one years. I have before me a table showing the pastoral leases in the Northern Territory-
– It will be found that the longest term to run is thirty-five years, and the shortest twenty-three years.
– The leases were for forty-five years originally, according to the official document.
– Senator Guthrie said that the leases were for twenty-one years. He said that he helped to pass the Act, and that that was the term of the lease of the run to which I referred.
– I do not think that that is what Senator Guthrie said.
– He said that the longest lease was twenty-one years, and that he helped to pass the Act. I have the particulars in this document of the areas of the runs, the length of the term of lease to run, and the rentals, and I propose to give the information to the public.
– Senator Guthrie said that some of the leases were for twenty-one years.
– The honorable senator said that he helped to pass the Act, and that the leases were for twenty-one years. Hansard will show that my statement is correct, i rely upon Hansard all the time. These are the areas of the runs in square miles - 310, 300, 615, 6,800, 5.342, 335, 385, 1,922, 300, 575, 2,823, 1,058, 624, 3,329, 2,913, 3,776, 747, 937, 512, 811, 958, 100, 628, 1,158, 405, 306, 185. 3°°, 320. 8,364, 1,404, and the biggest of the lot 19,250. So that the run to which I referred was only of moderate size. The lease of the run, with an area of 19,250 square miles, has thirtyfive years to run. The other runs included in the list are held for leases which have from twenty-three to thirty-four years to run.
– The longest is thirtyfive years, and the shortest twenty-three years.
– I am not disputing that. I see that five or six have thirtyfour years to run, and a number have thirty-two years to run. The rental per square mile for the full term of forty-two years is given in this document as from 6d. to is. per square mile for the bulk of the runs. What are we going to do with this Territory in the next thirtyfive years? It is proposed that we shall build a railway through territory which is held by people in enormous areas under leases for the next thirty-two years.
– What is thirty-two years in the history of a country?
– It means that the Labour party, during the last twenty years of their leases, are presenting to the holders of these runs a magnificent sum of money as a bonus for continuing to hold the land, because their properties will be made very valuable by the construction of a railway at the expense of the Commonwealth. Instead of bursting up large estates, Ministers are inducing people to continue to hold the land in very large areas. An area of 19,250 square miles is a principality. It is as big as some countries possessing sovereign power. We are asked to build a railway through these enormous estates that the people who hold them may be able to sell out. Later on, no doubt, it will be said that those who agreed to such a proposal must have had some interest in the Territory. I do not believe that any honorable senator has any interest in it, and, if he had, I am sure he would not vote upon the question. I intend to support the amendment for the reasons I have given. The railway is to be constructed from the point of view of defence,” and if that be so the railway already constructed will be worthless, and must be thrown aside, because a Government that would propose to send troops 2,000 miles over a 3 feet 6 inch railway would be the laughing-stock of the world just as were the Russians when they attempted to transport their military forces to Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese war over a single line of railway! If the Commonwealth accepts the Northern Territory, it will have to relay the whole of the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. It will have to substitute for the existing 3 ft. 6 in. gauge a wider and more costly gauge. Further, the Commonwealth will be hampered in that it will be powerless to increase the freight charges upon that line without first obtaining the consent of the. South Australian Government. Under these circumstances, ought any sane man to assent to this Bill, the passing of which will have the effect of binding the Commonwealth for all time? I say that the measure is one which calls for our very serious consideration. Only the other night, Senator Lynch argued for hours against a proposal to expend a sum of £50,000 upon the Federal Capital site - an amount which is a mere bagatelle by comparison with that which is involved in this measure. The taking over of the Northern Territory will commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure which is variously estimated at from £15,000,000 to £20,000,000. Even if we can borrow that amount at par at 3 per cent, it will mean an expenditure of 5s. per capita annually. Seeing that Senator
Lynch fought so strenuously against a proposal to expend ,£50,000 upon the Federal Capital site, surely he will fight even more strenuously against a scheme which will commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of twenty times that amount. I believe that the Bill will be” agreed to by the Senate, but I do hope that before it finally passes, the Government will disclose their intentions in respect of the development of the Northern Territory.
– I rise to a point of order. My point of order is that the Bill is not in accordance’ with the order of leave, and ought, therefore, to be withdrawn. The order of leave provides for the acceptance of the Northern Territory as a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth and for the carrying out of the agreement for its surrender and acceptance. Honorable senators will observe that it contains no reference to any matter outside of the Northern Territory. It does not contain a single word by way of direct reference to the Port Augusta railway-
– The construction of that railway is a condition of the surrender and acceptance of the Territory.
– I submit that nothing outside the order of leave cai) be dealt with in this Bill. Yet the measure contains a provision which refers solely to the taking over of a railway which is already in existence in South Australia, and for the building of two other- railways within that State. As the Bill is not prepared in accordance with the order of leave - as it is not confined to matters which relate to the Northern Territory, and which are within that Territory - I submit that it is out of order, and’ ought, therefore to be withdrawn.
– The point of order which has been raised by Senator Stewart is only a further evidence of the extent to which some honorable senators will go to thwart the progress of legislation which does not accord with their views. The leave of the Senate was given for the introduction of a Bill for the acceptance of the Northern Territory and for the carrying out of the agreement for its surrender and acceptance. Consequently, everything contained in the agreement is incidental to the transfer of the Territory from South Australia to the Commonwealth.
– The agreement is the heart of the Bill.
– It is a part of the Bill, and consequently no further leave is necessary.
– Whilst it is true that the Bill is connected very intimately with the carrying out of the agreement for the surrender and acceptance of the Northern Territory, if you, sir, will refer to one of its clauses, you will find that its acceptance will commit the Commonwealth to the payment of the amount of the deficit or advance account in respect of the Northern Territory. From the schedule of the measure, I gather that that deficit amounts to £75°i°°o- The Bill, therefore, binds us to take over with the Northern Territory certain obligation’s, and I submit that upon a similar ground it had to be withdrawn previously.
– To what clause does the honorable senator refer?
– To clause 14, which reads -
The Commonwealth,- in consideration of the surrender of the Northern Territory and property of the State of South Australia therein, and the grant of the rights in the agreement mentioned to acquire and to construct railways in South Australia proper shall -
be responsible for the indebtedness of the State in respect of the Northern Territory as from the date of acceptance of such surrender, and shall relieve the State from the said indebtedness in the following manner - ri. By paying the amount of the deficit (or advance account) in respect of the Northern Territory to the said State in such manner as may be agreed upon. If the amount cannot be agreed upon it shall be determined by arbitration.
So that the Bill provides for something more than the taking over of the Northern Territory, and the acceptance of the agreement for its transfer.
– It is a separate point of order which the honorable senator is raising.
– Very well. Then I draw your attention to it, sir ; and I shall ask for a formal ruling upon it when the point of order which has been raised by Senator Stewart has been disposed of.
– I did not have the advantage of hearing Senator Stewart state his .point of order. But I understand his contention is that the Bill is not in accordance with the order of leave - that the order of leave is limited to the acceptance of the Northern Territory as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, and to the carrying out of the agreement for its transfer and acceptance. If that be so, I venture to say that his point of order is one which cannot be sustained. In the first place, the reference to the railways mentioned by him is contained in the agreement, and their construction forms one of the conditions upon which the surrender of the Territory is to take place. They represent, the quid fro quo. If you, sir, decide that the Bill is not in order because certain conditions are stipulated in the agreement, then any condition in that agreement would be equally fatal.
– The Commonwealth would not be able to pay anything for the Territory.
– Exactly. Senator Stewart might argue with equal force that the Bill is out of order because the order of leave does not state that the Commonwealth is to become liable for a certain sum of money. AH these matters, I submit, are covered by the agreement itself ; and if we take away the conditions to which reference has been made, there will really be no agreement left. That is a view which I press upon you, sir.
– I am afraid that the point of order raised by Senator Stewart is hardly tenable. In the Journals of the Senate, of 6th September, it is recorded that leave was given to introduce a Bill for two purposes, first, “ to provide for the acceptance of the Northern Territory as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth”; and, secondly, “ for the carrying out of the agreement for the surrender and acceptance.” Obviously, that order of leave includes the agreement which relates to matters outside the Northern Territory. If the order of leave had stopped at the word “surrender,” I dare say that Senator Stewart would be upon solid ground. But it also provides for the “ acceptance “ of the Territory by the Commonwealth, and that acceptance necessarily involves matters outside the Territory The schedule is a part of the Bill, and the greater must include the less. Therefore, the schedule, which refers to the matters to which objection is urged by Senator Stewart, must be accepted as setting out one of the purposes of the measure. Therefore, I submit that the objection cannot hold, because if the agreement were rejected, it would simply mean the rejection of the Bill which the Minister obtained leave to introduce.
– This measure was introduced practically on the same order of leave as the one which was withdrawn. Senator St. Ledger has raised the issue that, because the first Bill was withdrawn, the same objection applies to this Bill ; but
I would call his attention to the fact that no question of appropriation is involved in the latter. I think that the order of leave completely covers all the matter in the Bill. I do not see how any exception can be taken from that stand-point, because, as was pointed out by Senators Millen and Lynch, the measure was introduced practically for two purposes j first, “ to provide for the acceptance of the Northern Territory as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth”; and, secondly, “for the carrying out of the agreement for the surrender and acceptance.” The agreement must be part of the measure which was authorized by the order of leave. I rule that the Bill is within the order of leave, and properly before the Senate.
– The amendment places me in a somewhat peculiar position. I should support the Bill without the railway covenants, to which the amendment refers; but much as. I dislike that portion of it, I am prepared to accept the Bill as it stands. To vote for the amendment, which goes so far as to affirm that no Bill is acceptable to the Senate which contains railway provisions, would be for me to stultify myself. 1 sympathize with the object aimed at by Senator St. Ledger, that is to obtain an agreement free from railway covenants ; but I cannot go to the extent to which his amendment would carry me. Although my sympathies would be in favour of obtaining a more liberal agreement - one leaving the Commonwealth a larger measure of liberty - I shall support the amendment for the reasons which I have just stated.
– I should not have spoken on this motion except for reasons which I shall proceed to enumerate. In discussing the second reading of the Bill Senator Givens made some remarks to which I take very strong exception, and which, I think, ought not to have been made, unless they were to be fully substantiated.
– Order ! Senator Givens has not spoken on the second reading of this Bill.
– I presume, sir, that I shall be permitted to refer to a statement made by Senator Givens in regard to this matter.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in referring to any debate which has taken place during this session in connexion with this matter.
– Only last week, in connexion with another proposal, references were made to this proposal. When an honorable senator declared that two senators from Western Australia expressed their intention of voting against a Bill of this character, and persisted in that attitude until there was a promise in regard to another railway, he made a statement, which, I think, ought not to be allowed to pass. When an honorable senator states that certain senators from South Australia were not in favour of granting to Western Australia the concession mentioned here, and had to be coerced into doing so, he ought to substantiate the statement. No pressure has been Drought to bear upon South Australian senators, so far as I know, certainly not upon myself. I do not look upon this agreement as a piece of huckstering, or anything of that sort. I think it is one which has been fairly made between the parties, and one which, in all fairness, ought to be carried out unless, of course, it can be shown that its terms are unjust to any party or would be likely to inflict injustice on a State or on the Commonwealth. I think I can say that a great many persons in South Australia are not really particular about having the agreement ratified, because the State is at present in a much better position than she has been in for many years past. During the recent State elections the present Premier, who was then Leader of thic Labour party, declared that if his party were returned to power they would be prepared practically to tear up this agreement and build a railway. That statement was hailed with satisfaction by a good many persons, and I believe that it tended very largely to secure the return of that gentleman and others. That feeling is entertained by a great many persons in the State, as is evidenced by the following report, which appeared only yesterday in an Adelaide newspaper -
One hundred and ninety-five copies of the following petition have been forwarded to the senior members for twelve districts of the House of Assembly and 156 copies to the senior members of the Legislative Council, for presentation to Parliament. The House of Assembly petitions have been signed by the representatives of fourteen corporations and fifty-five district councils, and the Council petitions by twelve representatives or corporations and fortysix district councils. The document has been heavily signed in the districts of Adelaide, Torrens, Wallaroo, and Alexandra, and if the Australian railways and Northern Territory League had been in a better position financially to have instituted a systematic canvass the signatures obtained in all districts would have been much more numerous. The petition reads : - “ The humble petition sheweth - 1. That your petitioners are of opinion that South Australia should not part with the Northern Territory, but should resolve to retain it as part of this great central State. 2. That your petitioners regret the continuance of the negotiations for the surrender of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth and would urge that such negotiations be discontinued forthwith. 3. That your petitioners believe general satisfaction will be expressed if the Northern Territory Surrender Act be repealed, and if it be determined to complete the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. Your petitioners therefore pray that your honorable House will be pleased to repeal forthwith the Northern Territory Surrender Act 1907, and to pass measures for the completion of the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek.”
Without absolutely indorsing that statement, I claim that it shows that many persons in South Australia would prefer that the agreement should be withdrawn and that the State should continue the work. A great deal of objection has been taken, and I think unjustly, taken, to the Bill. The relationship of South Australia to the Northern Territory differs in every respect from that of any other State. There is no other State which has done the same amount of work in the Territory, and I think that no State has the same claim on the Commonwealth to adopt an agreement such as we have before us. Who explored this country from south to north? Who opened it up in any way? Who found out what it was like? I am aware that from different States men went out for the purpose of exploring that great unknown land, but it was left to John McDouall Stuart, of South Australia, and his intrepid band to journey from Adelaide to the ocean on the other side, to eventually cross the continent and lead to the opening up of it. That is one thing which no other State did for the Territory, and I contend that it gives South Australia a claim on the Commonwealth. Then unaided by any other State, South Australia spanned the continent with a telegraph line at a cost of over £604,000. She is not asking for a refund of that expenditure. By the completion of that telegraph line from Adelaide to Port Darwin she brought Australia into communication with the rest of the civilized world. I say that the Commonwealth is under some indebtedness to South Australia for carrying out that work.
– The line cost nearly/ half-a-million of money.
– It cost over £604,000. When it is remembered that at that time the population of South Australia was only about 300,000, it is evident that the work was a plucky thing for a small colony to undertake without the assistance of any outside body. The whole of the exploration of the country was due to South Australia, and the carrying of the line across the continent was her own work. After that, South Australia, for the purpose of developing the Territory, started to bridge the continent with a steel road. She built about 145 miles of railway track in the Territory itself. She carried her own line nearly 700 miles north, leaving a space between the two ends of between 1,000 and 1,100 miles still to construct. That work was done for the purpose of opening up the Territory, and connecting the extreme north with the south. South Australia would not have thought for a moment of running a railway to Oodnadatta if that was all that was to be done. The work was part and parcel of a greater task which South. Australia intended to take up as soon as she was in a position to do so. She intended to carry the line onwards through the MacDonnell Ranges, and eventually connect it with the Pine Creek line. But, as Senator Symon said, South Australia found that she had “ bitten off more than she could chew.” There came a time of drought, depression, and disaster. The work had to be given up for a period. Before South Australia had regained her prosperity, the Commonwealth had come into existence. The Commonwealth Parliament had passed laws with regard to immigration, and cognate matters. It was generally understood that it would be in the interest of Australia as a whole that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory, and develop it. The conditions under which the Territory should be taken over became a matter of negotiation, and ultimately of agreement, between South Australia and the Commonwealth Government. I do not know that . South Australia commenced the negotiations. I am not aware that she initiated the proceedings in any way. But, at any rate, Mr. Deakin, who was then Prime Minister, met the late Hon. Thomas Price, then Premier of South Australia, and as a result of their discussion the agreement that is before us to-day was drawn up. Is it a fair agreement? I do not intend to discuss the capabilities of the Territory, but shall confine myself mainly to the question whether its terms are just to both parties. As far as I can see, South Australia is not asking too much. Within the last few years, she has been exceedingly prosperous. At the end of the last financial )’ear, she had a good surplus. She is face -to face with another splendid season which will leave her finances in a very buoyant condition. There are people in South Australia who would rather have the State build the railway herself than depart from this agreement. They recognise that this is properly a Commonwealth undertaking, but they want the terms of the agreement honorably carried out. It is said that South Australia is endeavouring to drive a hard bargain. But is that so? Let us look at the facts. Under the Constitution, New South Wales has the right to have the Federal Capital within her territory. She has battled hard for her right.
– No one has tried to deprive her of that right.
– Quite so ; and New South Wales now has the Capital where she desired to have it. The Constitution likewise provided that until the Federal Capital was established, the Seat of Government should be in Melbourne. I venture to say that if any one endeavoured to depart from that agreement there would be a howl from one end of Victoria and New South Wales to the other.
– That was an agreement entered into by the whole of the people of the Commonwealth.
– Exactly ; and we are now dealing with an agreement’ entered into tentatively by two parties.
– There is a marked difference between the two.
– I frankly admit the difference. I am simply discussing the question whether the agreement constitutes a bargain that ought to be ratified and carried out, or whether it should be rejected as being unfair, and the Commonwealth allowed to take over the Territory without any conditions.
– The honorable senator will admit that every one is agreed that the whole burden of indebtedness incurred by South Australia on account of the Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth.
– I do not think there is any doubt as to that.
– Does the honorable senator think that under this agreement we could take the railway outside the Territory itself?
– I am of opinion that the Bill should be passed in such a form that there could be no possibility of dispute as to what this agreement really means, or as to what the obligation undertaken by the Commonwealth really is. There is a doubt now. There is a difference of opinion as to whether the railway must be built entirely within the Northern Territory, or whether a deviation can be made. As I read the agreement, the railway can be built anywhere within an area 500 miles east or west. It might be built right up to the eastern border, though I do not think that it would be wise to do so. But there being a difference of opinion, I consider that the Bill ought to be passed in such a form as to make it absolutely certain and clear that, though the railway may deviate east or west, it cannot pass out of the Territory itself.
– Would the honorable senator accept an amendment in that direction ?
– The Bill is quite clear.
– Lawyers differ. I suppose they are paid to differ. I think that Senator Symon was absolutely right when he said that we do not want to enact a lawsuit. Therefore, we should make perfectly plain what the agreement does mean. I have before me the opinion of the Federal Attorney-General, Mr. Hughes, and may as well quote it -
The question is whether the Agreement embodied in the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill makes it necessary for all that part of the Transcontinental Railway which lies between Port Darwin and the northern boundary of South Australia proper to be built within the Northern Territory, or whether it would be consistent with the Agreement for a portion of the line to pass through Queensland.
The obligations of the Commonwealth in respect to the line are contained in clause (r). Under paragraph (i) the Commonwealth undertakes to - “ Construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway with a railway from a point on the Port Augusta Railway to connect therewith is hereinafter referred to as the Transcontinental Railway).”
All that this paragraph expressly stipulates is that the termini of the line shall be Port Darwin and a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper, and that the line shall be southwards from Port Darwin. It may also be gathered that it was intended that the line should comply with its description, and be a “ transcontinental line.”
I do not think it can be gathered from the terms of the stipulation that no part of the line must be in the State of Queensland. Doubtless an extravagant deviation into eastern Queensland would not be consistent with the idea of a transcontinental iine, i.e., a line which crosses through the continent, not circles round it ; but so long as the railway could be reasonably described as a line through the continent, from Port Darwin southwards to . 1 point on the northern boundary of South Australia, I think the stipulation would be complied with.
The stipulations of the State of South Australia are contained in clause (2) of the Agreement. In paragraph (c) the State promises to give the Commonwealth authority to enable it - “ to construct or cause to be constructed a railway in South Australia proper from any point on the Port Augusta Railway to a point on the northern boundary line of South Australia proper to connect with that part of the Transcontinental Railway to be built in the Northern Territory from Port Darwin southwards to the northern boundary of South Australia proper.”
I do not think that the words “ to be built in the Northern Territory “ can, either by themselves or read with the rest of the Agreement, imply that the whole course of the railway between Port Darwin and the boundary of South Australia must be within the Northern Territory.
The intention of the agreement, when it was drawn up after the negotiations conducted by the late Mr. Price and Mr. Deakin, was perfectly clear. There was no doubt in Mr. Price’s mind that the line was to be built within the Territory. It was to be a line to develop the Territory, not to develop Queensland. That object was to be attained by constructing a railway through the centre. I believe that the intention was to follow as nearly as possiblethe telegraph line. The matter has also been submitted to the Crown Solicitor of South Australia, who has given a totally different opinion from that of Mr. Hughes. I shall not read the whole of this document, but, in the second paragraph, this gentleman says -
The sections and this provision of the agreement do not deal with the route which the railway from Port Darwin through the northern boundary of South Australia proper is to take, and only in very indefinite terms with the direction of such railway. And it seems to me that if there were no other provisions explanatory of the intention of the parties, the Commonwealth could comply with the agreement by constructing the railway in question partly outside the limits of the Northern Territory. I consider, however, that the language used in a later provision of the agreement makes clear what the parties meant by the expression “ railway from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper.” I refer to the covenant on the part of the State to (c) “ authorize by legislation the Commonwealth to do all that is necessary to enable the Commonwealth to make surveys, acquire the necessary land, and to construct or cause to be constructed, a railway in South Australia proper from any point of the Port Augusta railway to a point on the northern boundary line of South Australia proper to connect with that part of the Transcontinental Railway to be built in the Northern Territory from Port Darwin southwards to the northern boundary of South Australia proper.” In my opinion the reference in the provision just quoted to the railway mentioned, in indefinite terms in the latter part of the agreement, can be referred to for the purpose of constructing that earlier part, and makes it clear, in my opinion, that what was covenanted for by the earlier provision is a line to be built wholly within the Northern Territory. Moreover, the agreement is made between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of South Australia, and it cannot, it appears to me, have been the intention of the parties that the railway should go outside the Northern Territory and traverse land belonging to another State. If the possibility of such a course had been contemplated, one would expect some reference to arrangements to be made with the other State or States through whose territory the line was to run. I am of opinion, therefore, that the Transcontinental Railway from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the Port Ausrusta Railway must, under the agreement and Surrender Act be constructed entirely through the Northern Territory and South Australia proper.
– That is Mr. Dashwood’s opinion.
– It is, and I think it is a very sound one. After writing that opinion, he had an interview with the State Attorney-General, who called his attention to certain other matters, and, after considering them all, he winds up with this statement -
On the whole, however, and with great deference, I adhere to the view as expressed in my opinion that the true construction of the Act and the agreement is that the Transcontinental Railway line is to be constructed wholly in South Australia and the Northern Territory, and as above stated I do not think that the Bill before the Commonwealth Parliament conflicts with this construction.
– Then why does the honorable senator wish to have the Bill altered?
– Because the Federal Attorney-General holds a different opinion, and it is our duty, in passing this legislation, to make it so clear that there shall afterwards be no conflict arising out of it.
– Does the honorable senator think that any amendment is really required ?
– In the circumstances, I do. If the Attorney-General is to advise the Government in the way he has done, and the Government act upon his opinion, we may have a lawsuit straightaway. If by inserting a few words in this Bill we can make absolutely clear what is intended, I think it is worth while to do so. We should, if possible, prevent any expensive lawsuit in the future with regard to the meaning of the measure. I wish to refer to another opinion, which was asked for by the Australian Railways and Territory League, a body formed in South Australia to watch over this matter. So far as I can learn, they have no axe of their own to grind.
– Have they an axe belonging to anybody else to grind?
– So far as I know, they have not. I believe they are patriotic, and desire only what they believe would be best for South Australia. They submitted this matter to Mr. E. F. Mitchell, K.C., of Melbourne, and, in giving an opinion upon it, Mr. Mitchell says -
In my opinion, upon the true construction of the agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of South Australia the Transcontinental Railway cannot be diverted out of the Northern Territory so as to be built partly in a State other than South Australia.
– That ought to satisfy the honorable senator.
– It does satisfy me. I have no doubt in my own mind, but when I find that there is doubt in the minds of other people, and that an opinion differing from this may be acted upon, I think it is right we should see that there shall be no conflict on the matter in the future. Mr. Mitchell says further -
There can be no reason why this agreement should not be construed according to the ordinary canons of interpretation, and, taking the natural meaning of the words used and reading the agreement as a whole, and having regard to the subject-matter with which it is dealing, I feel no doubt that the intention of the contracting parties was that the northern part of the railway should be made wholly within the Northern Territory to some point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper, and the southern part should be made from some point on the Port Augusta railway to the same point on such northern boundary.
He goes on afterwards to build up, and give reasons for, his opinion.
– There is a part of the northern boundary of South Australia proper coincident with the southern boundary of Queensland.
– I am aware of that, and also that my honorable friend is quite capable of taking up all these legal points and making the best of them to suit his own purpose and that of the State he represents.
– Does the honorable senator not take up legal points when they suit him ?
– I should not have taken them up at all if it were not that I desire that the matter should be made so clear that there can be no dispute about it afterwards. I have no other reason for discussing this phase of the question. It is only for this reason that Senator Symon has circulated some small amendments, which will tend, I think, to clear away any difficulty, and prevent the opinion of the Federal Attorney-General being acted upon, and so making trouble. We do not wish to get into the Law Courts over this matter. I have here Act No. 946, passed by the South Australian Parliament, dealing with this matter. It is entitled -
An Act to surrender the Northern Territory of the State of South Australia to the Commonwealth of Australia, and for other purposes ; and to approve and provide the carrying out of an agreement for such surrender and other purposes entered into between the Government of the said Commonwealth and the said State.
In the definition section it is provided that- “ The agreement “ means the agreement set Out in the schedule.
So that the agreement is part and parcel of the Act. It is provided also that - “The Northern Territory” means so much of the State of South Australia as lies to the northward of the twenty-sixth parallel of south latitude, and between the one hundred and twenty-ninth and one hundred and thirty-eighth of east longitude, together with the bays and gulfs therein, and all and every island adjacent to any part of the main land within such limits as aforesaid, with their rights, members, and appurtenances.
Section 6 of the Act reads -
The agreement is hereby approved and ratified.
Section 7 provides that -
The Northern Territory is hereby surrendered to the Commonwealth in accordance with the agreement.
So that honorable senators will see the agreement is the essence of the South Australian Act.
– The agreement is the whole thing ; because the Act is merely to ratify it.
– That is so. I wish now to call attention to paragraph c of clause 2 of the agreement attached to the South Australian Act. lt provides that -
The State, in consideration of the covenants and agreements by the Commonwealth herein contained, shall -
In this agreement, it is made absolutely plain that the line is to be constructed in the Northern Territory. If that be so, why should we not make it just as clear in this Bill ? Paragraph b of clause 14 of the Bil) provides that the Commonwealth shall-
Construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway with a railway from a point on the Port Augusta railway to connect therewith is hereinafter referred to as The Transcontinental Railway).
Why should we not make paragraph b of clause 14 read in exactly the same way as the agreement? We should then make it clear where the railway is to go. I do not see how any one could object to that. I am not going to discuss the merits of the Territory. I am not going to say that it is a land of Goshen, flowing with milk and honey. I do not propose to justify the expressions in hyperbole which Senator Millen quoted from the pamphlet entitled “ Territoria.” We all know what the Territory is. We know its possibilities. I do not think that anything is to be gained by my praising it up any more than there is anything to be gained by Senator Sayers and Senator St. Ledger crying, it down. The Territory has large mineral and pastoral possibilities. I admit that agriculture there is a problem which will require working out.
– -The coastal lands of the Northern Territory are suitable for tropical agriculture.
– But I do not intend to fill” Hansard with quotations of the kind to which I have referred, because it is not necessary to do so.
– The Pastoralists’ Review for February, 1910, says - “ Fever is unknown in this clear air, and there are absolutely no diseases amongst stock. . A healthier climate is not to be found in Australia.”
– Probably even that statement is somewhat exaggerated. But if South Australia had not acted in the way she did, what might have happened? A memorandum which was prepared last year under the direction of the Honorable L. E. Groom, when he occupied the office of Minister of External Affairs, states -
The establishment of Federation caused the Government of South Australia to look to the Commonwealth to relieve their State of the burden of maintaining the Territory. On 18th April, 1901, tie late Sir Frederick Holder, then Premier of South Australia, wrote to the Federal Government intimating that South Australia was prepared to offer the Territory to the Federal Government on the Federal Government also assuming the liabilities of the Territory. (Commonwealth Parliamentary papers, vol. 2, p. 941.) Attention is invited to that part of Mr. Holder’s letter, in which he says : - “ I may mention that, had South Australia been willing to have given carte blanche to capitalists to introduce coloured labour into the Territory, a sum of money, estimated at about £10,000,000, would have been forthcoming toestablish a chartered company to take over the Territory, with its assets and liabilities to South Australia, and to carry out the construction of the remaining portion of the overland railway. This offer was declined by the South Australian Government in it own interests and in the interests of Australia.”
Upon two occasions offers were made to construct the railway upon the landgrant principle, but both offers were declined by the South Australian Government.
– And those offers were to construct the railway upon leasehold conditions.
– An Act was passed to that effect.
– The memorandum from which I have quoted continues -
Iri September, 1902, the following resolution was carried in the House of Representatives : - “ That, in the opinion of this House, it is advisable that the complete control and jurisdiction over the Northern Territory of South Australia be acquired by the Commonwealth upon just terms.”
That is the whole point at issue - whether the terms set out in this Bill are just. I have endeavoured to show that South Australia is not asking for anything unjust, but is desirous of entering into an agreement with the Commonwealth for the transfer of the Northern Territory upon equitable terms. If I thought that she desired to do anything else, I would not support the Bill. But an agreement having been entered into by both parties, and having been ratified by the South Australian Parliament, it is the duty of this Parliament to accept it. In view of the extracts which I have quoted, I have no hesitation in saying that unless the Commonwealth is prepared to accept the Territory upon the terms set forth in the agreement, it will not be handed over.
– Then the Commonwealth is leg-roped?
– No. This Parliament may either accept or reject the agreement. If it accepts it, it will leg-rope itself, if there be any leg-roping about the matter. But if the Commonwealth determines that it will not accept the Northern Territory under the conditions imposed by the agreement, we must not be surprised if South Australia says, “ Very well. We will see what we can do to develop the Territory,” and the offer to transfer it may not be made again for years. During the discussion on this Bill we have heard a good deal about the question of defence. I say that die projected railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta is not urgently required for defence purposes. Neither is the construction of a line from Queensland. The way to adequately defend that portion of our Territory is to people it. Seeing that the Commonwealth exercises control over those who may enter the Northern Territory, it is our duty to devise means for its effective defence.
– To transport troops to defend that country it would be necessary to take them all round our eastern coast.
– Are the outlying portions of Australia never to be linked up with the other portions by means of railways ?
– Senator de Largie has asked a question which I proposed to put to honorable senators. Senator Sayers has boasted that Queensland has already constructed a railway within 200 miles of the Northern Territory. I say that if it will pay her to do so, that State will extend that line to the border of the Territory. There is jio reason why railways from the other States should not be con.rected with the proposed main line through the Northern Territory. In the years to come we shall not only have a main line running through the centre of the Territory, but it will be linked up with other lines running east and west. In this connexion we must recollect that we are legislating not for to-day, but for years to come. If we wish to develop the Northern Territory, we must build a railway through its centre. I claim that by ratifying the agreement which has been entered into with South Australia, the Commonwealth Parliament will be doing justice to both parties to that agreement.
– I do not intend to make a second-reading speech upon this Bill. When the measure was previously before the Senate, I said ail that I desired to say upon the general principle underlying it, and I would not have risen now but for the fact that an amendment has been moved by Senator St. Ledger. It is to that amendment that I propose to address myself. Ever since this Bill has been before the Senate, I - and many others who think that the Commonwealth should acquire the Northern Territory untrammelled by any conditions - have been strongly in favour of taking it over with all the obligations which attach to it. In other words, I think that the Commonwealth should shoulder every obligation of South Australia in the way of her indebtedness on account of that Territory. I do not intend io vote for any amendment which will place me in a false light by making it appear that I am opposed to the acquisition of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth when, as a matter ot fact, I favour its transfer.
– I do not think that my amendment can be interpreted in that way.
– That is the effect of it. By agreeing to the second reading of the Bill we shall simply affirm the general principle which underlies it. That principle is that the Northern Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth.
– The agreement is an essential part of the Bill.
– There is a main principle underlying every Bill which comes before the Senate. Every measure provides that a certain thing shall or shall not be done. The details connected with it are properly threshed out in Committee. I believe that every honorable senator is in favour of taking over the Northern Territory with every obligation that may attach to it, and for that reason I shall not vote against the second reading of this Bill. It is quite true that I am opposed to some of the details of the measure, but those details may best be fought out in Committee. I object to any honorable senator attempting to compel me to vote against something in which I believe. Senator St. Ledger asks me to vote for an amendment which, if carried, will have the effect of defeating the second reading of the measure. Further, it is quite possible that in Committee the details of a Bill may be so altered as to make it acceptable even to those who were opposed to its second reading. Why should we deprive ourselves of the right to examine this Bill in detail and to endeavour so to alter it as to make it acceptable to all honorable senators ? It is quite conceivable that that result may be attained in Committee. Consequently I desire to see its second reading carried. There is only one point of difference between those who are opposed to the details of the measure and those who are in favour of them. The latter affirm that the Commonwealth, in taking over the Northern Territory, should be bound to take over certain railways and to build certain other lines which were specified by South Australia when she assented to the agreement. On the other hand, some honorable senators declare that the construction of those railways may or may not be the best way to develop the Territory. Others again assert that there is no man in Australia who knows what routes those railways ought to traverse, and therefore the Commonwealth should be left free to say what lines it will construct for its development. It seems to me that it should be possible for reasonable men to arrive at a satisfactory compromise in Committee - a compromise which will satisfy all parties without sacrificing the Bill. For that reason I intend to vote against the amendment and to support the motion for the second reading of the measure.
.- I see no reason to vary the vote which I recorded in respect of this measure upon a previous occasion. The position which I then took up was similar to that which has been taken up by Senator Givens. I am willing that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory, but I am not prepared to bind it upon such an important matter as railway construction. Senator Vardon has told us that the Commonwealth” has entered into an agreement with South Australia for the acquisition of the Territory, and that therefore we ought to agree to the Bill. In support of his statement he sought to establish an analogy between the position of the Commonwealth and South Australia in respect of the Northern Territory and that of the Commonwealth and New South Wales in respect of the Federal Capital. As a matter of fact, no such analogy exists. In the matter of the Federal Capital there is a constitutional compact which this Parliament is bound to honour. We also know that, before it was finally accepted by South Australia, the agreement relating to the transfer of the
Northern Territory had to be ratified by the Parliament of that State. There is no doubt a consensus of opinion throughout Australia that the Commonwealth should acquire the Northern Territory. But it must be admitted that in regard to railway construction we are being asked to legislate in the dark. We have no authoritative information as to the character of the country which any of the proposed lines will traverse. We are here to legislate, not in the interests of South Australia, but in those of Australia as a whole, and therefore it is our duty to construct that line which will best serve national interests. Only a short time ago I had the pleasure of meeting two or three shrewd men who had travelled right across the Northern Territory. They have gone over that country, and as regards paying, they say that there is no comparison between the direct line and a line running in from the east. We cannot afford to ignore this aspect of the question. We cannot ignore the expense which is involved in the transaction. It will mean an expenditure of ^10,000,000 or ;£i 1,000,000. It will saddle us fromthe start with an interest bill of ,£370,000 odd, and the cost of development will run into a great sum. To utilize the Territory we should require a large influx of persons. We have not the people here at present whom we could put on the land, and I do not see any signs of an attempt being made to bring in the large influx which would be required to develop it. If it is taken over by the Commonwealth, it will remain practically empty for a very long while, and if we construct the railway, we shall put on the Commonwealth a dead weight which will last for a generation. With regard to the opinions which have been given by the Attorney-General, Mr. Dashwood and Mr. Mitchell, I think that if we do accept the Bill as it is, we shall be in honour bound to construct the railway as desired by South Australia. To put any other ‘interpretation on the agreement would be to resort to mere quibbling. If the Bill is accepted as it is. then as honest men we should accept the South Australian view, and not shelter ourselves behind any legal quibble. I do not see that there is any necessity to alter iv> Bill. If it is passed in its present form. 1 should hold myself bound to vote the money required for the construction of the railway as demanded by South Australia. It does seem to me, however, that that State is driving a rather hard bargain. She is taking advantage of the national feeling that the Commonwealth should have the Northern Territory. In my opinion, she ought gracefully to have left the route of the line open. I shall vote for the amendment, because I think that it ought to be made clear that, in our opinion, the Commonwealth should not be shackled. In Committee, I shall endeavour to get the Bill altered, but if it is passed as it is, I shall support the construction of the railway as South Australia desires.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia [5.45]- - The major portion of the speeches which have been delivered have been directed to the quality of the land in the Northern Territory, or to the question of how the agreement is likely to affect the eastern States. I do not think that it would be fair to the constituency I represent here if the Senate were to ignore the. effect of the agreement on Western Australia. From time to time, it has been stated that South Australia is driving a hard bargain, and also that she is quite indifferent as to the effects of the agreement on other States. I ask those who have been putting the eastern aspect of this question to consider for a moment the western aspect of it. If the representatives of Western Australia were to take a selfish or provincial view of this measure, they undoubtedly would say that the question of whether the railway should be strictly confined to the Territory ought to be left open. There are special reasons why it might be argued that the line ought to run much farther west than is indicated on the map here. I take it that it is for the purpose of developing the undeveloped parts of this great island continent that the acceptance of this agreement has been advocated. I think that every reasonable person will agree with me that if South Australia were in a financial position to develop the Northern Territory, there would be no occasion for us to consider this question at all. She would undertake the task on her own responsibility without considering other portions of Australia. For that reason, it cannot be argued that the railway should run through any country other than that which it is proposed to develop under the agreement. If, however, it is to develop Queensland, let us have a clear understanding that the railway is intended, not for the development of the interior of Australia, but for the development of the dead ends of certain railways in New South Wales and Queensland, and that the development of the heart of Australia is to be left out of consideration. If that view is to be taken, then this should be called a Bill for the development of the railways which are running into the western portions of the eastern States. Now we have other portions of Australia to consider. We have, for instance, a great north-western territory. If honorable senators will glance at the map on the wall, they will see that Western Australia has a m’uch larger area than has South Australia, including the Northern Territory.
– A little more, but not very much.
– If I were viewing this Bill from the purely Western Australian stand-point, I should take up a hostile attitude, and say that we are entitled to run the railway in a north-westerly direction, and so develop the north-western territory. That would be just as reasonable and feasible !an argument as that which has been used against the Bill by several speakers. I am proud that not a single representative of Western Australia has taken that selfish view. Its representatives recognise that the Northern Territory must be developed, and also that that task is quite beyond the capacity of the people of South Australia. When it is proposed to hand over the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth, there is no reason to expect the people of. South Australia to do more than any other section in developing Australia. We have at present a Government with a national policy. It has taken up the task of developing this great island continent, and especially those parts which have been neglected. But that cannot be done if we are to act from a purely selfish stand-point.
– The honorable senator is taking the South Australian view.
– No, I am taking a broad national view.
– The honorable senator is taking the policy laid down by South Australia.
– It is no more the policy laid clown by that State than it is the policy laid down by Labour men who have taken a broad and national view of the question.
– Broad ! Broad !
– Of course I exclude Senator Stewart from that category. He is not amongst those whom I claim as having taken a national view. Unfortunately, the National party includes men who take a provincial view. That does very little credit to a gentleman who is ever prating about taking a patriotic view of things.
– It looks very bad.
– It looks as if the present Government has laid down a national policy, and that is to develop those parts which cannot be developed unless the people of the Commonwealth take that task upon their shoulders.
– Does the honorable senator think it is the national policy of a National Government to accept the dictates of one State?
– The honorable senator will find when a division is taken that this is no more a question of accepting the dictation of one State than is any other question which can be carried hen; by a majority. I feel that the national policy of the present Government will bc carried on this occasion, as on others. I rose to point out that if the representatives of Western Australia were taking a narrow view of this proposal they would contend that that State ought to be linked up with any railway development which takes place under this measure.
– So it will be.
– Under this proposal Western Australia is to be linked up with our railway.
– No railway through the Northern Territory will touch Western Australia at any point.
– There is to be a connexion between the transcontinental railway to be constructed under the Bill, and the line to be constructed from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.
– That is into South Australia, not into the Northern Territory.
– That is why the honorable senator should take up a great national attitude.
– If T were taking the selfish view which Senator Givens has taken I should be asking that the question of route should be left open, and that the railway, instead of being taken through the Territory, ought to be taken farther to the west as he desires.
– I am not advocating that it should be run anywhere.
– We know perfectly well what the honorable senator wants.
– It is only necessary to exercise our brains a little to find out that. We also know perfectly well the attitude taken up by Queenslanders on this occasion. This Bill is not for the purpose of developing western Queensland. It is for the purpose of developing the central portion of Australia; and the sooner we address ourselves to that task the better for the country. The centre of this continent has been neglected too much in the past. The more we apply ourselves to developing it, the greater will be the credit to the white race in Australia, who will thereby establish a better claim to hold this great island continent than had the black race whom we have superseded.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Although I intend to vote for the second reading of this Bill to show my approval of the proposal to take over the Northern Territory, I wish to give a few reasons why I think the agreement which has been entered into between the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth should be departed from. The South Australian Government has loaded the agreement with a number of conditions which are to me objectionable. In addition to taking over the Territory, with all its debts and obligations, we are to develop it upon lines insisted upon by South Australia. When the Commonwealth took over the Territory, it might find that the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek ought not to be extended further. It might findthe country to be of such a character as would not warrant further expenditure. But, under this agreement, the Commonwealth would have no option in the matter of railway construction. That is an arrangement to which the Commonwealth ought not to submit. We are doing a very excellent thing for South Australia, in relieving that State of what is neither more nor less than a white elephant. The Territory has been a continual incubus to South Australia, and has been eating up her revenues. Were it not that South Australia, in common with the rest of the continent, has been blessed with a number of good seasons, she would, mainly because of the Northern Territory, be now in a very much worse position financially than that in which she actually finds herself. When the representatives of South Australia come here and tell us that their State is not only not anxious to get rid of the Territory, but does not trouble very much whether the Commonwealth takes it over or not, we may take their statement with a grain of salt. Twelve months ago, we were assured by the representatives of South Australia that we then had our last chance. But here they are again to-day, sturdy beggars knocking at the door of the Commonwealth as boldly as ever they did. With their wallet on their back they are demanding alms - that is what it comes to - just as insistently as they did twelve months ago. If this Bill were thrown out, we should find them knocking at the door of the Commonwealth just as vigorously twelve months hence. So that all this talk about South Australia developing the Northern Territory by her own resources is so muchstuff; it has not the slightest influence upon my mind. Let us see what sort of an asset South Australia has in the Northern Territory. The railway from Port Darwin to Pine Creek was commenced in 1884, and was completed at intervals. It cost £8,116 per mile. There are 146 miles of it. The total cost was £1,200,000. The excess of working expenses and interest over revenue has amounted to £1,032,000. So that, up to date, the total cost of the railway which the Commonwealth will have to shoulder is £2,232,000. I find that the money borrowed for the building of the railway cost, on an average, about £3 15s. per cent.
So that there will be a nice round sum to be paid in interest every year. If the line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek cost £8,1.16 per mile - and, as far as I can discover, that is probably the easiest portion of the suggested route - honorable senators can ask themselves what the cost of the portion from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta would be likely to be. The fact that the line has involved South Australia in a loss of ,£1,032,000 does not say much for the Northern Territory, or for the resources of that portion of Australia. In Queensland, our pastoral railways pay better than any others. The Northern and Central railways are more profitable than any other railways in the State, with the single exception of the Mount Morgan line. The inference that I draw is that, if the country in the Northern Territory were of any use, even for carrying sheep or cattle, the railway would have been run at a profit, instead of showing a huge loss.
– Have all the honorable senator’s investments been profitable?
– That is a personal question, which I do not propose to answer, and which the honorable senator ought not to ask. Tn the Northern Territory we have “ white elephant No. 1.” Now let us look at “ white elephant No. 2 “ in South Australia proper. There is a railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. No doubt the men who planned that enterprise to pierce the desert with a line of steel were men of great imagination.
– There can be no statesmanship without imagination.
– That is very true; but statesmanship does not consist in running railways through deserts and leaving” good country without railways. White elephant No. 2 is the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. I do not know which of the two is the big elephant, but, perhaps, they may be regarded as brother and sister. This line is 476 miles long, lt cost £4,500 per mile, the total cost being ^2,137,675. I have not been able to find out how much this railway has cost the South Australian Government since it was built, for the simple reason that the Government accounts are not kept in such a way as to give that information.
– The Northern Territory accounts show everything.
– The accounts are not kept in that way for the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway
– The Railway Commissioner’s report shows what the line has cost.
– No; I have looked through the report of the Railway Commissioner, and cannot find the figures. There is a general statement that the annual loss on this railway is £80,000. Looking at the traffic to and from Oodnadatta, I find that last year, from that station, there were sent 160 tons of goods, and that the trade inwards was 970 tons. One can easily understand from this how it is that the railway does not pay.
– Did the honorable senator see the stock account?
– There were about 10,000 cattle and sheep carried on the line. In any case, the traffic was of such a character as one who had seen the country would anticipate. As I have said before, the country is nothing but desert pure and simple, with rolling, drifting, driving sand. Whenever there is any wind at all huge quantities of sand are sent flying all over the country.
– The honorable senator is now drawing on his imagination.
– I have not any. I am a Scotchman, and Scotchmen do not keep imagination on the premises. The country is just what I have pictured it. It is the most desolate portion of Australia that I have .ever seen. I can only characterize the people who were responsible for the building of that line as men who must have been suffering from temporary aberration. They could not have been in their sane and sober senses -when they projected an interprise of that kind. We have £2,230,000 as the cost of the Pine Creek railway, and £2,137,675 as the cost of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, making a debt, for which the Commonwealth under this Bill would become immediately responsible, of nearly £4,450,000 to begin with.
– But consider what the Commonwealth will be getting for it.
– All I have to say is that, if the stock is no better than the sample, God help the Commonwealth. The Territory will be a continual drain upon its resources.
– If it is not transferred it will be a continual drain upon the resources of a State.
– I am not troubling about the State. I think Senator Millen must misunderstand me. I am quite willing that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory with all its obligations.
– To be a drain upon the Commonwealth ?
– Yes. I see clearly that South Australia cannot develop this portion of the continent, and that if it is to be developed, it must be by the united efforts of all the States. But I see something else also, and that is that the authority that has to find the money should have the laying down of the policy of development. But that is not in the agreement. The authority that is impotent to develop this Territory is, under this agreement, to lay down the policy, and some members of the Senate are foolish enough to be willing to permit it. I cannot understand why they should do so. I consider that they are giving away the interests of their constituents in doing so. Each State of the Commonwealth will have to bear its share of the burden, and, that being so, each State should have a voice in laying down the policy of development.
– And if that were so, South Australia, in common with every other State, would have a full share in deciding the policy.
– South Australia would, of course, have her say with the others, and neither more nor less ; but under the arrangement here proposed South Australia gets rid of her debt and enforces her policy in one act.
– It is a mutual agreement.
– This may be very smart business on the part of South Australia, but it is not good business for the other States of the Commonwealth. While we are willing to take over the Northern Territory with all its obligations, we are unwilling to allow South Australia to dictate to the Commonwealth what the future policy of development shall be. Representatives of South Australia have told us that they are not very anxious to get rid of the Northern Territory. Why do they come here, year after year, with this proposal if they are not anxious to get rid of it ? The people of South Australia have had this Territory in their hands for thirty years, and have shown themselves to be utterly powerless to do anything with it. Debt has been piled upon debt in the management of the Territory, and because a scare is abroad on the subject of the defence of the Commonwealth, the people of
South Australia think they see an opportunity to drive a hard bargain with the Commonwealth, and they set about doing it. Is it patriotism to take advantage of the necessities of the Commonwealth? Is that how one State should treat the other States of the Commonwealth? If I were to say what I think about such conduct, I am afraid that, to use an expression made use of by another honorable senator the other night, I should have to use language which would be more fitting for a shearing shed than for this Parliament.
– I rise to order. Has the honorable senator any right to attribute any particular language to those engaged in a shearing shed? There are as good men to be found in shearing sheds as are to be found anywhere else, and they know how to behave themselves as well as do members of Parliament.
– I did not understand the honorable senator to attribute any particular language to those engaged in shearing sheds.
– I was merely repeating what an honorable senator on the other side said here the other evening. I have never been in shearing sheds, and I do not know what language is used there.
– We pleaded with Senator Gardiner to give us a sample, in order that we might judge for ourselves.
– It might have been a good thing if the honorable senator had done so. From -what he said, I was led to believe that the language used in a shearing shed is of a very lurid and forcible character. If one private individual were to deal with another in the way in which South Australia is attempting to deal with the Commonwealth, I should characterize his conduct as savouring somewhat of sharp practice. I should say that on one side we had a fellow who was a good bit of a rogue, while on the other side we had a fool. I do not wish to infer that South Australia is not honest; but I do say that she is driving an extremely hard bargain with the Commonwealth. I go further, and say that honorable senators who are supporting South Australia in this conduct are betraying the interests of the Commonwealth. They are not doing by their constituents what they ought to do. They are bound to protect their constituents from imposition. South Australia seeks to impose upon the Commonwealth, and some honorable senators on both sides are, apparently, quite willing to allow her to do so. That is an attitude which they ought not to adopt. I agree that we should take over and develop the Northern Territory. I do not know how it is to be developed. I do not know whether the Government have in mind a policy for its development. South Australia can do nothing with it, and we are all agreed that something must be done with it. Who is to do it? If it is to be the Commonwealth, we should be in a position to lay down the policy of development. But, under this agreement, the Commonwealth will be bound hand and foot. South Australia not only dictates as to how the railway must be built in the Northern Territory, but she lays down other conditions. She says that we must take over the Port Augusta railway, and must continue it from Oodnadatta. She has, further, the audacity to say that we must build a railway from some point on the Port Augusta line to the western boundary of South Australia.
– No, she does not say that.
– The agreement gives authority for that. It does not say that we must.
– That is a concession.
– It is not a concession about which I am anxious. I think that South Australia and Western Australia may very well do what other States of the Commonwealth have done, namely, build their own railways. Queensland - although she has been taunted with being extremely selfish and parochial - -has built all her own railways. She has become responsible for every yard of line constructed within her territory, and she is quite willing to accept responsibility for every railway that she may build in the future. I do not see why South Australia and Western Australia should not occupy an exactly similar position. Why should other States spend their money in constructing railways in South Australia and Western Australia when that money is urgently required for railway construction within their own borders?
– Why should not all Australians bear the white man’s burden of developing the whole of Australia?
– If Australia be placed under a unified form of government, I have not the slightest objection to that proposition.
– I understand that, in the other branch of the Legislature,- towards the close of its sitting one day last week, the question was raised as to whether it was not possible to afford some relief to the Hansard staff, in view of the long hours during which its members are employed. As a result of the representations which have been made in this connexion, the proposal is that when the sitting of the other House is suspended for dinner at half-past 6 o’clock, it will not be resumed until 8 o’clock, and that the luncheon adjournment shall be extended until half-past 2 o’clock. The Sessional Orders of the Senate provide that its sittings shall be suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m., but, if no objection be raised - that is, with the leave of the Senate - I intend to vacate the Chair until 8 p.m.
– What about the luncheon adjournments?
– I propose to adopt a similar practice to that adopted by the other branch of the Legislature, until the Sessional Order is altered.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– The more I ponder over this matter the more I am surprised at the unreasonable attitude taken up by South Australia, on the one hand, and at the weakness of the Commonwealth on the other. South Australia seems to be adopting a most unpatriotic stand in this connexion. Her position resembles that of a man who, finding his friend in a difficulty, takes advantage of his difficulty to impose conditions upon him which are next door to ruinous. In effect she says to the Commonwealth, “ You must take over the Northern Territory. The safety of Australia demands it. There is no escape from it. That being the case I am going to impose upon its transfer whatever conditions I may please.” South Australia thus appears in the most unenviable role of a Shylock demanding his pound of flesh - demanding the utmost farthing which he can extract from the Commonwealth. That is not friendly, it is not brotherly, it is not national, it is not patriotic, and it is exceedingly improper. But whilst I upbraid the South Australian Government and people for adopting this unnational attitude, I must ‘also reproach those honorable senators who support them in it. They are just as much the enemies of the Commonwealth as is South Australia. The man who winks at the commission of an offence against the common weal is just as bad as is the man who commits it. The individual who acts a part with a thief is just as bad as is the thief himself. No matter how evil may be the intentions of South Australia those intentions cannot be carried out without the assistance of honorable senators representing the other States. The reason which has been advanced for this extraordinary business lapse is that the Northern Territory, in its present condition, is a serious menace to the Commonwealth. We are told by all the military and civil authorities that Port Darwin is our back door, and that while we are busy developing the southern part of Australia the enemy will rush in by that gate and take possession of that very fertile area in the northern portion of this continent. We are, therefore, assured that if we are wise we will at once build a railway through the desert of South Australia across the MacDonnell Ranges - from the South Australian boundary to
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable senator sa5’s “ Hear, hear.” He thinks” that when that railway has been constructed the most ample provision will have been made for the defence of Australia.
– That will be merely the commencement of our defence.
– Honorable senators are beginning to change their tune. Apparently they have discovered that that cock will not fight. Has it ever occurred to them that by building a railway to the northern portion of Australia we may be constructing a highway by means of which an enemy may pierce into the heart of this continent and deal a deadly blow at Australian liberty? Senator Vardon sneers, but he would sneer at the angel Gabriel if he came down from Heaven this evening and talked as I am talking. All he wants is his pound of flesh. He must go back to South* Australia with this ungodly bargain in his wallet, otherwise the free and independent electors will be down upon him at the next elections. Here is another aspect of the question which I desire to put before honorable senators. Let us assume that the projected railway has been built, that an attempt has been made to develop the Northern Territory, and that a small population is actually settled there. I do not think anybody expects that within the next fifty years there will be more “than 500,000 people located there. Queensland, which is much more fertile than is any portion of the Northern Territory, and which is much more capable of being settled by Europeans, has been settled for over fifty years, and yet it contains only a population of between . 500,000 and 600,000. I am well within the mark, therefore, when T say that if during the next fifty years there is a population of 500,000 in the Northern Territory, it will not have done so badly But let us assume that the railway through the Territory has been built, and that settlement has been brought about there. Let us further suppose that some great power has cast a covetous eye upon Australia and has made a descent upon Port Darwin. Immediately that descent was made every available man would be hurried up there. But that attempt might be only a feint. The real attack would be made in the southern portion of Australia - the portion which is worth having.
– That is a powerful argument in favour of making the navy our first line of defence.
– I will deal with the whole question before I conclude, my remarks. I am merely giving expression to my own ideas. Upon this question, I am neither bound nor handcuffed. Suppose that what I have said happened, and that our soldiers, or a great portion of them, were trained up to Port Darwin. What would the enemy do? If he knew his business, he would immediately make a descent on the southern portion of Australia and capture it, while our men were in the north. He would immediately send a contingent to meet them in the heart of the desert, and beat them almost without the striking of a blow.
– Could not a train get to Port Darwin sooner than a steamer?
– I have not time for the honorable senator. He is beyond the reach of argument; he is ironclad. Senator Millen says that that is a reason why we should develop our Navy as the first line of defence. We cannot afford a navy which would be of any service to us against a great power. From my point of view, our business is to people the southern portions of Australia as fast as possible.
– And abandon the north ?
– Listen to this statesman; his method is to abandon the north. We shall never people the northern portion of Australia with people from Europe. It must be done by the overflow from its southern portions.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– Therefore, our business as a National Parliament is to do everything in our power to people the southern portions of Australia; and when we have from 10,000.000 to 20,000,000 of people here, then the north will be quite safe. That is my answer to Senator Millen; that is my defence policy. It is not a fleet or an army that we want. Australia is a country which, if it had sufficient population to organize, say, a million men, would be impregnable to the attack of any foreign power.
– But in the meanwhile ?
– This wretched scheme which we are now discussing will, between the debt which has been incurred and that which must be incurred, involve about £15,000,000, and the interest on that sum, at 3 J per cent., will come to about £500,000. That money must be found by the people of the States. New South Wales will, have to find over £100,000. If it spent that sum on intelligent land settlement, and if Victoria and other States did likewise, within twenty years we should have a comparatively large population in the southern portion of Australia, and should be. placed in a much better position to defend ourselves against a foreign foe than under this miserable policy which we have here outlined.
– But, per capita, New South Wales will pay no more than the small State of Tasmania.
– She is paying more per head of the population to-day.
– I believe that she is. That is not the whole outlay. There will be the deficiency on the Port Darwin railway, the deficiency on the Port Augusta Oodnadatta railway, and the deficiency on the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway to be made up every year, in addition to the interest charge of £500,000, and the probability is that the Commonwealth is now laying the foundation of an annual expenditure of £1,000,000. If the States spent that sum on intelligent land settle- . ment, they would do more for Australian liberty than all these wild-goose schemes can ever possibly do.
– Is there any guarantee that they would spend the money in a better way?
– I cannot say that, but certainly, from my point of view, they could not spend the money in a worse manner than the Commonwealth proposes to do; it is going to spend the money on railways which cannot pay for themselves within the next fifty years - long lines which will not carry a population within the next century, which will- do nothing to add to the population of Australia.
– Has the honorable senator seen the country?
– I have seen too much of the country. I saw a portion of the country, where no white men would care to live, and where very few white men do live - a country which is given up to camels and Afghans. I do not see that it is fit for habitation by any other class of people.
– A wild statement.
– I am trying to give my views on this question. I know that they are in opposition to those of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, but I cannot help that. I think that the Commonwealth is being driven into a useless expenditure. Money is not so plentiful with us that we can afford to fling it about in this lordly fashion.
– Who is driving the Commonwealth ?
– The honorable senator is, for one, and for the most selfish of all reasons. Patriotism he talks about. There is no patriotism in this action on the part of South Australia. If there was good-will to the Commonwealth that State would say : “ Take the Northern Territory, and develop it in any way you please. It is nothing to us.”
– That is practically what South Australia says.
– But, instead of that, South Australia wants her policy to be put in force. What does that mean? It means that through this railway from Port Darwin to Adelaide the commerce of Central Australia must go. That is die object of Adelaide; that is an entirely selfish policy - a policy such as is carried out at present by Sydney, byMelbourne, and by Brisbane; a policy which is fatal in every essential, and which is injurious to the people of the Commonwealth as a whole. Do honorable senators support that policy? They say “Hear, hear,” when I refer to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, but there is no “ Hear, hear,” when I mention Adelaide, and that is just as greedy as the other cities.
– It is the Holy City.
– It is the city of Shylock, the new Jerusalem. I ask honorable senators, even at the eleventh hour, to try to deal seriously with this great question. They do not seem to trouble. In England I suppose there is plenty of money to be raised at 31/2 per cent., and they ask, “ Why should we not go in for a big splash, a great national policy of quartering the continent by means of railways ?” Where is there another wild-cat proposal like the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, or the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek? The former line will go through nothing but desert. It will not pay during the next fifty years. It will be used by very few of the people of Western Australia. None of the goods traffic will go across that way, because the cost will be too great. The steam-ship companies plying along the coast will carry the goods and passengers at such rates that the railway will not be patronized.
– In, the honorable senator’s estimation, is there any part of Australia which is. worth considering at all?
– Which part?
– Senator Long says “ Queensland,” and I say that Tasmania is worth considering.
– I am certain that it is.
– If the honorable senator were faithful to his own State, he would never dream of voting for this proposal. I do not know how he intends to vote, as I never asked him. and it does not trouble me very much in what direction he votes.
– I am a Tasmanian.
– The honorable senator can do nothing for Tasmania by voting for these proposals, except to load her down with more and more expenditure.
– I am a Tasmanian, and will take all that responsibility cheerfully.
– The honorable senator is welcome to the exercise of his responsibility, for all I care. I am merely expressing my opinion that, if its representatives were faithful to Tasmania, they would vote against these wild-cat proposals, because they can do nothing for that State.
– I am voting faithfully, in accordance with the opinion of the people of Tasmania.
– Well, they have been misled.
– The honorable senator was not there.
– I wish I had got there before the honorable senator did ; and I am not so sure that, even now, I could not change their view. We have been told that South Australia is not anxious to get rid of the Northern Territory; but I find that the railways in other portions of that State have not been paying. There isa sum of£1, 000,000 to the debit of her railway system. That is proof positive that even the railways through the best portions of the State have not been paying.
– Last year the railway system paid nearly 4 per cent.
– I accept the interjection; but the honorable senator, if he likes to turn up the book I have beside me, will find that the total deficiency on the railway system is£1,000,000.
– That does not alter the fact that the railways as a whole are now paying.
– Last year, £100,000 was taken off the deficiency ; but there is a record in black and white that shows that the railway system has not paid during the last thirty or forty years.
– But are the railways paying now?
– They are paying now, and reducing the deficiency. It must be remembered that, during the last few years, we have not been having normal seasons, but a round of good seasons such as Australia has never known before. There is another factor in connexion with the railway system of South Australia. Broken Hill is a mining proposition, and every man knows that, no matter how rich a mine is, every ton of ore which you take out of it brings you nearer the end. Some day Broken Hill will collapse, and then there will be no traffic along the railway from Adelaide to Broken Hill, and the South Australian railway system will be in Queerstreet.
– Let the honorable senator talk of subjects of which he knows “something.
– I know just as much about the affairs of South Australia as does the honorable senator.
– Does the honorable senator exclude the possibility of other mines being developed at Broken Hill?
– There may be new discoveries, but there have not been any such indications so far.
– There may be.
– The New Jerusalem may be instituted by the decree of Heaven to-morrow. There may even be some extraordinary discovery which may awaken the people of the State which Senator Long represents; but it has not happened yet. I suppose that something in the shape, of an earthquake, or an air-ship sent directly from Heaven, might stimulate them a little; but hitherto nothing seems to have disturbed their sweet repose. If we wait long enough, we may see a great many queer things. But I should like honorable senators to consider for a moment the seriousness of this question. It is all very well for us sitting here upon velvet cushions, with everything comfortable about us, to vote away money as now proposed. But the taxpayers of this country will have to find that money. The men who toil in the mines, those who graft in the forests, those who shear the sheep, those who do all the work of this continent, will have to find the money for these “ wild-cat “ schemes which are passed in a few minutes by our unthinking legislators. I have no hope that I shall be able to prevent this slide. I am afraid that honorable senators are in the bag. They have made up their minds how they are going to vote, and nothing that any man can say will alter their determination.
– Argument might change their opinions, but not their votes.
– That is a most remarkable admission to make. It amounts to saying, “ You have a good case, and you may have proved it up to the hilt; but we are going to vote against you.” Is not that a fine position for honorable senators who play a responsible part in the counsels of this country to take up !
-Is there any possibility of changing the honorable senator’s opinion on the subject?
– Not the slightest possibility. The honorable senator always knows where he can find me. I am not driven about by every wind that blows. I am not the sport of every circumstance.
– The honorable senator’s determination in that connexion is a virtue, but ours is a vice.
– I always believe in saying what I think it is necessary to say in the best interests of this country. We have to find £15,000,000 to carry out these schemes. They will land the Commonwealth in an added million sterling of taxation.
– Senator Sayers made the amount £20,000,000. Why do not the opponents of this Bill agree on their main facts ?
– The amount may be somewhere between £15,000,000 and £20,000,000 sterling. What are we going to get for this money ? What good will this Northern Territory Bill do? What traffic will go over the railway when it is built? Who will travel by it? Already over £2,000,000 has been sunk in the line from Port Darwin to Pine Creek. It is proposed to extend it over sandy, windblown desert. It can never pay in the whole history of Australia. If we have £15,000,000 to throw away, we can find very much better uses for it than spending it on schemes of this kind. I am in favour of taking over the Territory.
– And doing nothing with it?
– How does the honorable senator come to that conclusion? Because I- will not submit to South Australian dictation, the honorable senator, whose mind is one of the most curious-thinking instruments I have ever come in contact with, comes to the conclusion that I would not do anything with the Territory when we took it over.
– The honorable senator’s argument goes to show that the construction of the railway would be a folly.
– So it would be. The position that I take up is that the Commonwealth ought to have the right to say whether that railway shall be built or not. If I had any voice in the determination I should certainly say “no.” But it is a fair proposition that as the Commonwealth will have to find the money for these schemes it should lay down the policy, whatever that may be. Why should South Australia impose these conditions ? Why the representatives of other States, who have ho connexion with South Australia, should support this policy, I cannot discover.
– Because they possess a sense of justice.
– No; I think they show a lamentable weakness. Who in connexion with his own private business would think of doing such a thing as this? Who would dream of taking over the business of another man and allow him to lay down the future policy for the conduct of it? What a sensible business man would do under such circumstances would be to say, ‘ You have made a mess of your business. You have shown your incapacity. I have become your guarantor. I am going to run the business while my money is in it as I please, and if you do not like those terms you can remain here and take the consequences.’’
– The honorable senator’s argument is one for the rejection of the Bill altogether.
– It is not. It is an argument against permitting South Australia to lay down conditions. The honorable senator apparently cannot understand ah argument. He is so busy interjecting that he cannot find time to listen.
– Are there not two parties to an agreement?
– Certainly then, are, and I have said that the one party is unreasonable, whilst the other is lamentably weak. The Commonwealth is agreeing to an arrangement which no man in his own business would consent ‘to. It is allowing South Australia, which has lamentably failed to develop the Territory, to lay down conditions for its future development. My contention is that if the Territory is taken over the Commonwealth should lay down the policy. The Commonwealth will have to pay the piper, and, therefore, should be able to call the tune.
– While I agree with very much that Senator Stewart has said, many of the arguments that he has adduced convince me that I ought to vote for the second reading of this Bill. I agree with him in regard to the attitude of South Australia, and I am no great enthusiast in regard to the future of the Northern Territory. But I shall vote for the Bill, because I realize that all past attempts to develop the Territory have been failures. I am of opinion that one State in comparatively poor circumstances - because South Australia is poor, from the point of - view of population and wealth - is not in a position to support a policy of development for such a big tract of country. The Northern Territory has hitherto been a burden upon her shoulders. It is because pf this fact, and also because the Territory is at present a menace and a danger to the whole Commonwealth, that I believe that the Commonwealth should carry that burden, which is too heavy to be borne by one section of our people.
– Does the honorable senator believe that the Commonwealth should build the railway as well ?
– There are two aspects of the railway question. In the first place ! candidly admit that I do not like the portion of the agreement relating to the railway. The State Government is dictating terms and a policy to the Commonwealth, and I do not like that.
– The honorable senator cannot deny the right of a vendor to ask what price he likes.
– While I do not want to express any want of confidence in honorable senators or members of another place, I am afraid that if the Territory were transferred to the Commonwealth, without any conditions, we should find representatives of certain States trying to influence the route of the proposed railway, as it may be said South Australian representatives are trying to do today. While I do not admit the right of South Australia to lay down the policy for the development of the Territory, I do concede her right to say on what terms she will part with it. We are entitled to say whether the terms proposed are acceptable to us. If there should now appear to be a tendency on the part of South Australia to dictate a policy in this matter, honorable senators need not fear that it will be regarded as a precedent, because I know of only one Northern Territory that can be transferred to the Commonwealth. South Australia has spent the bulk of the money expended in the Northern Territory in an honest endeavour to develop it as a portion of a White Australia, and even if the proposed cost to the Commonwealth of its transfer were to be considered only in the light of a reward for services rendered by South Australia, there would be much to justify the proposal.
– If the country had been fit for Chinamen there would be thousands more of them there now.
– I believe that it is fit for something very much better than occupation by Chinese, but I should like to add that if it were fit only for Chinese I should have a stronger reason than ever for agreeing to the proposal that the Commonwealth should take it over. Considerations as to what it will cost do not weigh with me at all. I have an unbounded confidence in every portion of Australia. I do not believe that we know the possibilities of the
Northern Territory, and it may be that they are better than we have dreamed of. We do not yet know what the mineral possibilities may be, because no man can say that so far a fair opportunity has been afforded for their development. I frankly admit that I am largely influenced in giving a vote for this measure by my faith in the future of the Territory. If we take it over, are we prepared to spend money upon it? If we are to be contented with a policy of drift it will be of no use to us.
– Where are we to get the people to occupy it?
– I shall answer the honorable senator directly. If we are to do anything with the Northern Territory when we have taken it over, we must be prepared for an immediate expenditure of a.t least £5,000,000.
– Where shall we get the money?
– Surely we can discuss the national aspects of this question without bothering ourselves- with considerations which ought to be reserved for meetings of the Women’s National League? If this country is not sufficiently wealthy to enable us to find the money required by taxation, I am one who will be willing to borrow for the purpose. If that is the information Senator St. Ledger desired, I make him a present of it. With respect to the suggested difficulty of peopling the Northern Territory, there is no country in the world to which white people will not go if they are assured of good conditions of life, and an opportunity of getting employment. The construction of the proposed railway will give a certain amount of employment, and by establishing experimental farms, and other means, people may be provided with information which will induce them to settle in the Territory. Before the public works referred to are completed there will be a certain population in the Territory, and I have faith that discoveries will be made which will make it worth the while of others to go there. Not 60 miles from this building a discovery has recently been made which is of greater value to Victoria than was the discovery of Broken Hill to the rest of Australia. We have at Powlett River an immense coal-field, which, if it is not equal to Newcastle, is of immeasurable value to a manufacturing population. For years our people have been walking over it for the lack of a little enterprise. We have been waiting for private enterprise to develop it, and we should still be waiting for its development if the State had not taken the matter in hand. Surely where great risks and grave responsibilities require to be faced, the. Commonwealth ought to be prepared to do something? I rose to justify the vote I intend to give. I shall vote for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth, because, although it may not be as fertile or as rich as other portions of the Continent, I believe it is quite good enough for the Commonwealth to take over, and that there is a good future before it. All such considerations apart, however, I say that the worse the country is, the more like a desert it is, and the greater the difficulty of developing it, the greater the necessity for its transfer to the Commonwealth, so that the responsibility for its protection may rest with the National Parliament.
– I wish to say a word or two in reply to the arguments advanced by Senator Stewart. The assumption on his part that he alone possesses the wisdom necessary to come to a right decision on this matter is not justified.
– May I not express my own opinion?
– Certainly; arid I am expressing mine.
– There was no assumption of wisdom on my part. Have I not a right to say what I think?
– I have very soon managed to provoke interjections from the honorable senator who so strongly objected to them while he was speaking. Whilst some of the honorable senator’s arguments were very good, others were quite erroneous. I take his statement, for instance, that the proposed railway, if constructed, would be a source of possible danger rather than a safeguard for the Commonwealth. It may be admitted that, even if Port Darwin were fortified as strongly as possible, that would not prevent the landing of an enemy.
– There would be an easier means of landing at Burketown and . Normanton, in the Gulf.
– We know that the mere fortification of harbors and particular points of land is not sufficient to prevent the landing of an enemy. In view of the enormous coast-line of Australia, it must be impossible to prevent an enemy landing by the fortification of particular places. But that is no reason why fortifications should hot be erected. I do not pretend to military knowledge, but it is the opinion of experts that Port Darwin is a strategical point which should be strongly fortified. Senator Stewart’s idea is that the proposed railway through what he calls the desert would provide afl enemy who had effected a landing With a readier means of access to the rich lands of the south. So far from that being the case, military experts consider that that is not the way in which an enemy would attempt the conquest of the richer and more densely populated districts of the south. They believe that for such a purpose an enemy would reach the south by sea.
– That is what I have always said.
– Then one of the honorable senator’s arguments destroys the other. If an enemy contemplating the conquest of Australia came here with a big naval force, as he would require to do, he would effect a landing somewhere within striking distance of such wealthy centres of population as Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, and it is clear that the proposed railway through the Northern Territory would not be of much assistance to him.
– Might not an enemy make a feint attack at Port Darwin?
– That is, of course, a trick of warfare, for which we should have to be prepared. It is reasonable to assume that we shall have a sufficiently able Intelligence Department attached to our military organization to take all reasonable precautions against a feint attack. But I do not think such an attack would be greatly assisted by the construction of the proposed railway. Senator Stewart fails to recognise the facts as they will be. If we take over the Northern Territory, and decide to build the transcontinental railway, it will be a year or two before we can begin its construction. A number of years, and no one- can say just how many, will elapse before the line can be completed, but does the honorable senator believe that in the meantime the Commonwealth will leave the Territory as empty as, and as defenceless as, it is to-day? He has admitted that there may be 500,000 persons in the Territory in fifty years. They will not all go there at once, and the readiest means of attracting population-
– Is to have good land for people to settle on.
– We cannot create good land, but the readiest means of attracting population to the land already there, is to afford means of access to it, and the means for carrying its productions to a market. It will be a considerable time before there are centres of population in the Northern Territory sufficient to create local markets, but if Senator Stewart, or any other opponent of this scheme, is in earnest in professing to desire that the Northern Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth, he will admit that the first and best means of developing it will be to provide communication between it and the more densely settled districts of the south.
– There is a railway 145 miles inland from Port Darwin. Surely that ought to have developed a big slice of country, but has it done so?
– The honorable senator is blind to the fact that Port Darwin is not a big centre. The mere running of a line southwards for a distance of 145 miles is not sufficient to make that port a big centre. On the other hand, the construction of a railway northwards from Oodnadatta for a distance of 400 or 500 miles will land it nowhere. Surely it is logical to assume that though a railway which terminates at a certain point may be a rank failure, its extension to another point may produce entirely different results? A railway which terminates at a particular point may never pay, whereas its extension may cause it to tap riches which will make it remunerative. The fact that neither the Port Darwin to Pine Creek nor the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway pays does not necessarily imply that a through line would not pay. Nevertheless, I admit that there is no prospect of such a railway proving a financial success for some years. Senator Stewart’s denunciation of the projected line on .the ground that it will be worthless, and that our mails will be delivered quicker by being landed at Fremantle, will not hold water for a moment.
– I made no such statement.
– I made the statement hours ago.
– I am sorry that I attributed it to Senator Stewart, who has already sufficient sins to answer for. I believe that the Commonwealth must construct that railway on a standard gauge, and that work will necessitate the relaying of the line which is already in existence. But will the cost of that undertaking be anything like that of building a fresh line, seeing that all the levels have been taken, all the surveys made, and that, in addition, the existing railway will be available to carry the necessary material for the conversion of the existing gauge into a wider one ? I say that it will be a mere flea-bite compared with the cost of constructing a new line through new country.
– The honorable senator has not answered my contention, that if we pass this Bill we shall be hobbling the Commonwealth .
– The Commonwealth must hobble itself if it wants to be hobbled.
– It is honorable senators who will hobble it.
– For political purposes, the members of this Parliament are the Commonwealth. If a majority of honorable senators vote for taking over the Northern Territory upon the lines laid down in this Bill, they will be hobbling themselves if there be any hobbling about the matter. As a New South Wales representative, the charge cannot be laid at my door that I am interested in this question in the sense that the representatives of Western Australia and South Australia are interested.
– The honorable senator does not think that -any other State should have a voice in the matter.
– I do not say that. I merely say that, as a New South Wales representative, I cannot be accused of being interested in the matter to the extent that the representatives of Western Australia and South Australia are interested. I hold that in this case, as in all others, the vendor has the right to say upon what conditions he will dispose of his property.
– Surely this is not a sale?
– It is not exactly a sale. But it is a bargain between two contracting parties, one of whom is willing to dispose of a certain estate upon specified conditions, whilst the other is debating whether it is prepared to subscribe to those conditions.
– It is an offer.
– Yes ; and if we carry this Bill we shall ratify the bargain- which has been entered into between the two contracting parties. We have an absolute right to reject the bargain-
– We have done so twice.
– That is so. But we have no right to alter the terms of that bargain. It is our duty either to accept or reject it. At present, South Australia has a right to say that she will keep the Territory irrespective of whether or not she is able to develop it. She may, if she chooses, continue to muddle along, just as she has been compelled to do hitherto, owing to lack of financial resources. But, manifestly, we have no right without her consent to alter the terms of the agreement which has been entered into.
– We have rejected the Bill twice.
– I am aware of that; but
I believe that the greater accession of wisdom to this Chamber since the last election will now result in its acceptance. My contention is that we cannot alter the terms’ of the agreement without incurring delay. I am not one of those who is content to rest cosily on these velvet cushions and to take things easily.
– The honorable senator favored delay the other day.
– I am glad that interjection has been made, because there is absolutely no analogy between the necessity which exists for dealing with this question and that which exists for determining the Federal Capital site. One is purely an internal matter, whereas the other is, to some extent, an external one. Instead of Port Darwin being the back door of Australia, I believe that, as it is the door which is most accessible to alien races, it is that through which uninvited guests will undoubtedly enter, unless we take precautions to exclude them.
– We are told that the yellow peril will not live there.
– I think that it can live in any part of the world, from Kamschatka to the Equator. It can live in any portion of the globe that is inhabitable. Those who oppose the railway conditions which attach to this Bill aver that they are quite willing that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory and develop it. But can we develop it by constructing a railway through another State, east or west of the Territory, or by failing to construct a railway at all?
– I did not suggest that.
– I am aware of that. The honorable senator poposed that we should adopt a masterly policy of inactivity.
– I would leave the matter in the hands of the Commonwealth.
– And, as I have already pointed out, we are, for political purposes, the Commonwealth. I maintain that we cannot develop the Northern Territory without constructing a railway through it. Seeing that the Territory is over 500 miles in width, it is clear that we are not confined to the route which is marked on the map hanging in the chamber, but may diverge on either side of it for a distance of, approximately, 250 miles. I agree with Senator E. J. Russell that, from the stand-point of defence, we should take over the Northern Territory. I believe that the effective population of that country will come from the south - that the pressure of population caused by natural increase and immigration in the more temperate regions of Australia will provide those who are already acclimatised with the opportunity to go further north, and that gradually they will people the Territory with native-born whites, who will quickly adapt themselves to their environment. That is the way in which we may best settle the Territory. But what are we going to offer the people to go there? The average man does not like to go any further from civilization than he is compelled by circumstances to go. The pioneer, as a rule, is not the class of man who will stop anywhere. The fact that he is a pioneer makes him, more or less, a nomad and a rover. Consequently, we require to couple the development of the Northern Territory with our defence system. We require to lay out settlements in approved situations, where special advantages can be offered in the way of socialistic enterprises, and where military service will be one of the conditions to which the population comprising those settlements will be subjected. I believe that the way to defend ourselves from a probable early attack by Japan or China is to make it possible to live in the Territory by means of State aid. We should develop industries there which are suited to its climate, and make military service a condition to which its settlers are subjected. In such settlements we shall find our main safety ; and by permitting residents frequent vacations, during which they may come southward to enjoy “spells” in our more temperate regions, we can make them attractive. But the first essential to the development of the Northern Territory is the construction of a railway. Similarly, it is almost a part of our Federal bargain that we should link up Western Australia with the more eastern States by means of railway communication. Whatever these undertakings may cost, Australia, as a whole, has ample wealth to carry them out. As that wealth is taxable, it is a fair thing that we should tax those who possess it, to provide the necessary- means for such enterprises. That is to say, the richer portions of this continent should be ready to pay a subsidy for the development of the poorer portions. If, eventually - and Senator Stewart himself, I believe, hopes it - some form of unification is established here, then all fears about this, that, or the other part of the Commonwealth bearing debts which rightly belong to South Australia, will fail to the ground. But, of course, that is in the distant future. At present, 1 believe that our duty is to lose not a single day io the work of defending Australia, and that duty calls upon us, as a prerequisite, to take over the Northern Territory, and, as rapidly as possible, to build a railway connecting the south with the north. In regard to the alternative scheme which we know engages the minds of our Queensland friends-
– It is not in my mind, anyhow.
– I am not mentioning any names, but dealing with statements and proproposals with which honorable senators have been simply flooded.
– Which are indicated on the map here.
– Yes. During my election campaign last year, I was faced with this proposal, that we should link up our railways from Bourke to Cunnamulla, thence to Winton and to Cloncurry, and also, I believe, to Chillagoe, and also in a north-westerly direction from Camooweal to Port Darwin.- Honorable senators who have a greater knowledge of the capabilities of the country than myself, have told me that, in their opinion, a large proportion of the trade will come to northernQueensland whatever we may do. If so, that is a very sound argument why Queensland should build the railways which are to benefit herself. I see no reason why the railway systems which go west from Queensland ports should not be linked upBut, whilst that may be a very fair proposition on its merits, and may even be worthy of Commonwealth support, yet it is not a scheme for the development of the Northern Territory, because such a line for hundreds of miles would not touch the Territory. The line would touch it only in the far north. If we are going to do anything to develop the Territory, we should take the railway right through it. Therefore, the scheme laid before the Senate is one which, as a matter of common sense and fair play, we should adopt. I think that South Australia, instead of being twitted because she has failed to develop this enormous area, and complete the construction of a transcontinental railway, deserves the utmost credit for the splendid imagination which her statesmen showed in undertaking such a task. No man is worthy of being called a statesman unless he can get away from the mere 3! per cent, consideration which animates Senators Sayers and Stewart, and look to those possibilities which are beyond money calculations.
– The possibility which the honorable senator mentioned just now of taxing the other fellow ?
– That is so; although the honorable senator need not laugh. I once entered a protest, which I suppose was unique, against the authorities of the place where I live not taxing me enough. I said that I would prefer to pay a little more, because I thought that it was only pooling individual funds for the common good. T never object to taxation, so long as a result can be shown. But I do believe that the Northern Territory is essential to the Commonwealth, and that South Australia deserves the utmost praise for having held it so long as she has done. And the fact that she has piled up a mountain of debt in the operation, is no proof of want of wisdom on her part, but merely a proof that she undertook more than her financial resources and her population would permit her to carry through. She has held the Territory well in the interests of Australia, and the Commonwealth is going to take it over and make a success of it.
– I must congratulate the Government upon having so little of a destructive character to reply to. There have been only a few hostile remarks made by Senator Sayers, who, to judge from hh utterances, does not seem to be responsible for what he has said, and by a political iconoclast like Senator ‘ Stewart who must always be in opposition, whether a thing is right or wrong. Senator Sayers and others were very anxious to know what the Government policy on this question was, and the former desired to ascertain the extent of the financial responsibility which the Government were undertaking. I thought that in introducing this proposal originally I gave full information on both points. I said that the total financial responsibility was £10,200.000, and that the policy of the Government was to link up the railway in South Australia with the railway constructed in the Northern Territory at a cost of £4,500,000, which was included in the former sum. South Australia is attempting to take no advantage of the Common wealth. This is-a fair agreement.
– We think that it is not, and we have a right to hold our opinion.
- Senator Sayers thinks it is not a fair agreement. He is not Blondin or Columbus, or anybody else, he is only a humble member of the Senate, and his vote does not count for any more than does mine. Of the total sum of £10.200,000, £4,500,000 has not, as I have said, been spent. And if the Commonwealth has the privilege of raising that sum it will also have the privilege of spending it, and, therefore, the party which calls the tune will certainly be paying the piper in that respect. With regard to the balance of the £10,200.000 there has already been spent a sum of £2,700,000 in the Northern Territory, and no one here ran state on any reliable authority that any portion of that sum was wasted.
– We do not know anything about it.
– That is why the honorable senator cannot say that any portion of the sum has been wasted. It has not been wasted. That public debt of £2,700,000 includes the cost of the railway from Palmerston to Pine Creek, the harbor works, the work in connexion with finding water in different portions of the Territory with a view to induce settlement, the cost of surveys, and the cost of administration. No one can say that the expenditure has been on a lavish scale. As regards the liability of £2,200,000, which the Commonwealth is asked to accept outside the Northern Territory, it will get ail asset in the shape of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. ‘
– What is it worth?
– Any financial corporation would be willing to take that over if South Australia would grant the land on each side of it. I can also tell the honorable senator that for a grant of 90,000,000 acres a company was prepared to construct, on the land-grant principle, a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. Although that is an enormous tract of country, yet it is not very much out of a total area of 350,000,000 acres. It shows that there were private individuals who were prepared to complete the railway. The only amount to which South Australia is laying any claim is an accrued deficit of £800,000, which was brought about becau.4(: the expenditure on construction and administration exceeded the returns from the Territory. There is not a railway in Australia, not even the railway from Adelaide to Melbourne, or the railway from Melbourne to Sydney, or the railway from Sydney to Brisbane, which began to pay until more than a score of years had passed by, and another score of years passed by before it had paid off the accrued deficit. Honorable senators are acquainted with these facts, and, therefore, I contend they have no right to suggest that if the Com- ‘ monwealth should take over this liability to expend .£4,500,000, years will elapse before she will recoup herself. If we are to be guided by past experience we must acknowledge that a time will come when, apart from the development of Australia, this undertaking as a financial speculation will pay. First Senator Sayers said that the Commonwealth will be called upon to expend £15,000,000, and then not satisfied with the Age’s estimate he raised the amount to £”“20,000,000. How many years is it since there was no debt on Australia? The black fellow strode over our plains whether they were verdant or desert, and owed nothing. Then civilization came, and now Australia owes ,£250,000,000. Are the people of Australia any worse off?
– The , honorable senator is going ‘to pile up additional debt, anyhow.
– Is that why the Labour party is against borrowing?
– The honorable senator is talking as some portion of his anatomy guides him, because he does not know what the policy of the party is. He only knows it from hearsay, and his authority is like himself - very unreliable. Senator Sayers was not satisfied with the Age’s estimate. He had to raise the amount by £5,000,000. But the probability is that within the next twenty or thirty years, if the Northern Territory is developed, and becomes a State, unless the Labour party is predominant in the mean time, there may be a debt of twenty or thirty million pounds upon it; and even then the Territory will be no worse off than any one of the States is at the present time. So that I do not think there is anything in that argument. If Senator Sayers’ statements in connexion with financial matters are no’ more reliable than were his statements with respect to the population of the Northern Territory, they are not worth much. I think he said that there were at one time twenty or thirty million Chinese in the Territory.
– I said 20,000.
– A million or so is nothing to the honorable senator. When I used the word “ millions,” I was trying to perpetrate as big a joke as the honorable senator made when he spoke of 20,000 Chinese having once been in the Territory. I have investigated the matter, and find that the largest population the Territory contained, excepting aboriginals, was in 1888, when it contained 6,000 Chinese^ and 1,500 whites. The number has been decreasing ever since. I know the reason why, but there is no necessity to elaborate that question. I make this correction to show that if Senator Sayers mistook 6,000 for 20,000, it was quite easy for him to mistake £”10,000,000 for £”20,000,000. Consequently, his authority on the one aspect is no more reliable than on the other. I regret very much that I have to deal with the argument, or want of argument, of my fellow countryman, Senator Stewart, because I have some regard for the recollection that at one time his ancestors and mine “ swopped “ stolen cattle on the moors and mosses of old Scotland. It grieves me to reflect that Senator Stewart still sticks to his clannish barbarities, while I have become to some extent civilized.
– The honorable senator is still a riever, whilst I am an honest man now.
– I do not wonder at Senator Stewart having so poor an opinion of Australia, because I once heard him say that Scotland was only good enough for a kirkyard, and consisted entirely of rocks and “ stanes.” I do not know whether he still holds that opinion. But he had just as good an opinion of hisown country as he has expressed to-night regarding his adopted land. I am very sorry that any Australian, and particularly a representative Australian, should not have a better opinion of this grand country than that which has been expressed by the honorable senator. I pity him. He reminds me of a little insect in a situation where it can do no good for itself, whilst annoying its victim. Mr. President, have you ever had a flea in your ear? It is a horrible sensation ! The flea does the victim no good, nor does the situation do the flea any good. In its hysterical writhings, it probably breaks its own legs, blunts its mandibles, and lays itself open to certain death. Senator Stewart resembles the flea. He does not do his own party any good; he does not do the Commonwealth any good ; he does not do himself any good. He sheds the pollen from his petals, he scatters the bloom from his foliage, he takes away the verdure from his pastures, and he derives no advantage for himself. There is another simile that occurs to me. Have you, Mr. President, ever heard a fly in a jam tin? Does it not make a horrible noise ? No one will say that the fly in the jam tin does the jam any good. It does not do itself any good. It smears its wings, runs the risk of losing its legs, blinds its thousands of eyes, and when it emerges from the tin becomes a prey to its enemies. The fly in the jam tin reminds me of Senator Stewart. On many occasions we in this Parliament have deprecated the action of many who, having made fortunes in this country, have gone to Europe and slandered the land that had conferred such great advantages upon them. That is what Senator Stewart has been doing. He has fouled his own nest as a representative of Australia. He has cried “stinking fish” to his own catch. He has said that the Northern Territory is not fit for a Chinaman. He has said that Central Australia is nothing better than a waste afflicted by whirlwinds of shifting sand.
– Nor is it.
– He repeats the statement. Nevertheless, there are men who have lived for years in Central Australia and who are just as healthy specimens of humanity as Senator Stewart can pretend to be. I hope there is no honorable senator present who will take any notice of the ravings of one who expresses such contempt for a country that has done so much good to him and to thousands of others who have come to its shores. I trust, not only that the second reading of this Bill will be carried, but that it will go through Committee intact, because any alteration of the measure that would necessitate the question being referred again to South Australia might have unfortunate consequences. I have no desire to see any financial corporations in that State secure the adoption of the land-grant principle to the detriment of the whole Commonwealth. I .look, as every true Australian should look, with great hope to the future progress and prosperity of every portion of this country. I speak, not of the prosperity and progress of any one State, but of the whole continent; and that can only be brought about by continuous development. As far as the Northern Territory is concerned, and its relationship to the rest of the States, I hold that there is no power in existence that can develop it as it ought to be developed, except the Commonwealth itself.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The agreement is by this Act ratified and approved. .
– I have an amendment to move which is of a very contentious character, and will open up the whole question at issue. I suggest that progress might be reported at this stage, in order that we may begin the discussion on the question to-morrow, and” then go straight through with the Bill.
– I should be prepared to consent to anything which, in reason, the honorable senator might propose, but it is now rather early to report progress. I have already stated to some honorable senators that I do not intend to take on any other business this evening. It will do no harm for Senator Givens to move his amendment now, and make his speech upon it. I do not suppose he intends to make a secondreading speech in Committee. There is at least twenty minutes yet pf which we might avail ourselves before we adjourn out of consideration for honorable senators who have had to travel some distance to-day. I shall be prepared to report progress at 10 o’clock, or a few minutes later, and if Senator Givens proceeds now, honorable senators will hear what he has to say, and will have an opportunity to consider whether they should agree to his amendment.
– I have no objection to move my amendment now, but my suggestion, instead of wasting time, would have saved it. Many honorable senators refrained from speaking on the second reading of the Bill in order that they might deal with the crux of the matter in Committee without delay. Clause 5 is the crux of this measure. . It reads -
The Agreement is by this Act ratified and approved.
The question is whether the Committee is prepared to ratify and approve the agreement in its entirety. We have been told that we must agree to it as a whole or reject it. A pistol is levelled at our heads by the Government of South Australia, and we are informed that we cannot take over the Northern Territory unless we agree to every jot and tittle of the agreement. I object altogether that this Parliament should be asked to legislate on so important a matter under duress of that kind. This is a National Parliament, representing every part of Australia, and it should be left free to legislate in the way which may seem best to its members. What are we asked to do by this agreement? We are asked, not only to take over the Northern Territory, and every shilling of indebtedness in connexion with it, but also to agree that the policy carried out by us for its development shall be laid down by the dead hand of South Australia.
– South Australia is not dead yet.
– No, but the hand which she has laid on the Territory has been a dead hand. On her own admission she has absolutely failed to do anything worth while with it. That is the reason put forward for asking the Commonwealth to take it over. If the plans of South Australia for the development of the Territory had been successful she would never have asked the Commonwealth to take it over.
– No, but there would be a demand that the Territory should be declared a State.
– I am not blaming South Australia for being unable to do anything with the Northern Territory. I agree with Senator Symon that in taking upon herself its control she bit off more than she could chew, but, having failed to masticate it herself, she asks that the Commonwealth should undertake the task, and should work its jaws in the way dictated by South Australia.
– South Australia could easily digest all the honorable senator would give her.
– I am not here to give anything to anybody, nor is any other member of the Committee. Honorable senators are here to do what is best for the
Commonwealth, and are not here to ask or to give anything which they ought not to ask or give. The Northern Territory has been under the control of South Australia for a very long time, and has been a burden which the State has felt pretty acutely. Her government of the Territory has resulted in a considerable annual deficit. I admit that the burden is one which the State should no longer be called upon to bear. Honorable senators who think as I do on this matter are agreed that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory, with every shilling of indebtedness South Australia has incurred in its development, and also with every shilling of the accumulated deficit from her management of it. That is an eminently fair proposition, but South Australia is not content with that. She asks that this Parliament should relieve- her of the burden, and when we say that we are prepared to do so, and also to recoup her for every shilling of loss she has suffered in controlling the Territory, she is not contented even with that. Through her representatives she prates here about her national policy, and though every member of the Committee is willing to recoup her for every shilling she has lost on the Territory since the first day she assumed control of it, she says that she is not willing to allow the Commonwealth to develop it unless we agree that all the railways we may hope to be able to build for the next twenty years shall be carried through the Territory right down to her front door. If this Parliament is to take over the Territory, we should be left absolutely free to do the best we can with it in the light of all the information obtained after the fullest investigation. There is no member of the Committee, and no person in Australia, who knows exactly the best places in which to construct railways for the development of the Territory, but South Australia pretends to know all about it. Though she has abjectedly failed herself, she says that she will not allow the Commonwealth to take over the Territory unless we are prepared to bring the railway constructed there down to her front door. In the face of this, South_ Australian representatives prate about a national policy, and reply to the arguments used against this proposal, not by counter arguments to prove that the opponents of the measure are wrong, but by a parade of so-called funny abuse. They make a travesty of legislation.
– By illustrations of jam tins and flies.
– I shall not compare Senator Givens to a fly, but to a very superior animal.
– Senator McGregor can please himself what he does. The public are very good judges after all, and will come to a proper conclusion. This is the great national attitude of South Australia, which we have been called upon to admire. In addition to being asked to build railways in the Northern Territory where South Australia dictates, we are asked to take over the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, built in South Australia proper, for the development of that State. South Australia and her representatives are on the horns of this dilemma. They must contend that the railway f 10m Port Augusta to Oodnadatta was necessary for the development of South Australia proper, or admit that the country through which it runs is unfit for settlement, and a railway should not have been constructed through it… There is no escape from that position.
– Can the honorable senator not conceive of the line as a part of a bigger project to run right through to Port Darwin, which South Australia ultimately found she was not strong enough to complete?
– We are not faced with that alternative at all. If we shut out the Northern Territory from our view, the railway to Oodnadatta from Port Augusta was necessary for the development of South Australia proper, or the country through which it runs was not worth developing.
– It was constructed as a part of a transcontinental line, and but for that it would never have been made.
– But if there were no Northern Territory in existence honorable senators must admit either that the country through which this line runs is fit for settlement, or that it is not worth developing. There are railways in other States extending into the interior for even greater distances, but they were not built as parts of transcontinental lines, and no one is asking that the Commonwealth should take them over.
– But this line was built as part of a transcontinental railway, and that was the only reason for building it.
– Does the honorable senator say that the country through which the railway from Port Augusta to Oodna datta runs is not worth developing by a railway ?
– No, but it was necessary to bridge over the bad country to reach the MacDonnell Ranges.
– That is quite true, and Senator Vardon is, therefore, willing to accept one of the alternatives I put to the Committee. Why should the Commonwealth be expected to take over a railway going through country which, according to a representative of South Australia is no good? Why should we be asked to take over a non-paying line going through nonpaying country, and then to continue it for a considerable distance through country of the same class?
– Not through country of the same class, but to develop much better country.
– No one pretends that the country is any better until we get to the MacDonnell Ranges.
– Deserts have been crossed in other countries by railways. What about the great Nevada desert of America ?
– Transcontinental lines were run across the United States because it was the only way by which the people could get from one side of the continent to the other, without going right round Cape Horn. But there are hundreds of ways by which we might get. into the Northern Territory without crossing a. desert. If this Parliament is to build railways for the development of the Territory we should be left to decide to build them where they will develop the greatest area of country, and afford opportunities to the greatest number of people to settle on the land, and produce wealth from it. It is madness for us, with our limited resources, to build railways through bad country, when we cannot get enough money to build railways through good country. I object altogether to the Commonwealth being asked to take over the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. South Australia should build railways in her own territory herself, unless honorable senators are prepared to advocate an extension of Federal powers, and to claim that the Commonwealth should take over the whole of the railways of Australia. If that were done there could be no objection to every State asking the Commonwealth to build the railways necessary to develop it. But, so far as I know, the advocates of this proposal do not believe in unification so far as the control of the railways of Australia are concerned.
– I do, and always did.
– I am pleased to have that acknowledgment from the honorable senator, because it supplies some justification for the attitude he has taken up in this connexion. But until we have unification, so far as the control of the railways of Australia are concerned, no independent State has a right to ask that the Commonwealth should take over her non-paying railways. There is not a State in the Commonwealth which does not possess some non-paying railways. Queensland, has several non-paying lines, so also has New South Wales.
– The Commonwealth will take over all of them, the good with the bad.
– Every other State has an equal claim with South Australia that the Commonwealth shall take over its non-paying railways. Every State of the group has incurred an enormous indebtedness in the construction of railways within its borders. Consequently, it is unfair to ask any State to incur a further indebtedness, in order to build railways in another State. It is perfectly equitable to ask every State to contribute towards the cost of building railways in Commonwealth territory ; but it is grossly unjust to ask any State to contribute to the construction of railways in any other State which possesses sovereign powers. I hold, therefore, that Queensland ought not to be called upon to incur a larger debt per capita than she already carries, in order to construct railways in South Australia. That is the position which I take up. Whilst I am willing that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory and reimburse South Australia for every shilling of indebtedness that she has incurred in respect of it, I say that we ought not to be asked to do more. For that reason I have drafted an amendment which has been printed and circulated amongst honorable senators, and of which due notice has been given. It is identical with the amendment which I submitted to this Bill when it was under consideration last year. In it, I ask honorable senators to eliminate from the agreement paragraphs b, c, d, e, f, g, and h, of clause i. These provisions relate to the construction of railways within the
Northern Territory after it has been taken over by the Commonwealth, and also to the taking over of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line. Paragraph b seeks to bind the Commonwealth to submit to the dictation of South Australia-
– How can the honorable senator speak of “ dictation,” seeing that this Parliament is free to reject (he Bill?
– According to the advocates of the measure, we are free to reject the whole of the agreement; but we are not free to take over the Territory upon any other terms than those prescribed in the Bill.
– We are free to state the terms upon which we shall take it over.
– The honorable senator wishes to make an alternative proposal.
– My amendment asks the Committee to agree to every one of the conditions imposed by South Australia, with the exception of those embodied in the paragraphs which I have specified.
– That is to say, the Commonwealth will dictate to South Australia.
– Nothing of the sort. The Commonwealth does not wish to impose a single condition on South Australia.
– The honorable senator wishes the Commonwealth to say, “ We will not accept your terms, but we will make a counter proposition.”
– I do not wish the Commonwealth to dictate to South Australia as to’ what she shall or shall not do with the Northern Territory. But I do say that when that Territory has been acquired by the Commonwealth, the latter should be free to develop it in the way which may most commend itself to the wisdom of this Parliament.
– When the honorable senator visits his tailor to order a pair of pants, he dictates to him how they shall be made.
– But in that case I am the buyer - I am the individual who has to pay for the pants. In the present instance, it is the Commonwealth which is asked to buy the Northern Territory - it is the Commonwealth which is asked to pay the money. Therefore, we have a right to say where any railway should be built, in order to develop that Territory. But, according to the Vice-President of the Executive Council the Commonwealth should submit to the dictation of South Australia-
– The honorable senator has no right to use the term “ dictation.”
– What are the provisions of the paragraphs in the agreement which I desire to eliminate? Paragraphs provides that the Commonwealth shall -
Construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australiaproper (which railway with the railway from a point on the Fort Augusta railway to connect therewith is hereinafter referred to as the Transcontinental Railway).
I am free to confess that I do not know - and I am doubtful whether any man in Australia knows - which is the best route for a railway, which is intended to develop the Northern Territory, to follow. Nobody has made a proper examination or a survey of that country.
– Does the honorable senator think that it is reasonable to attempt to develop it without constructing a railway ?
– No. We must have a railway.
– That is all that we ask.
– The honorable senator asks a great deal more. He wishes to lay down the actual route which the railway shall follow. It is delineated on the map which is hanging in the chamber.
– Another line is also delineated on the map. We may build a railway within 250 miles on either side of that suggested route.
– But why should any particular route be suggested until we know the best route that is available?
– The honorable senator wishes to keep it in the air.
– I want .to leave the Commonwealth free to construct this railway wherever it may think fit. Those who wish to tie the Commonwealth hand and foot, are always prating about the freedom of the National Parliament.
– They are as bad as was the Fusion Parliament.
– We are now asked by a Labour Government to carry out the policy of the Fusion Government.
– It is the same agreement.
– If we are to adopt the policy of that Government, why did we appeal to the country to oust them from office?
– They accidentally did a good thing occasionally.
– If they did so many good things, I think we are greatly to blame for not having previously given them the credit which belongs to them. The real fault which we had to find with them last year was that they compelled us to battle for the freedom of the National Parliament. We did not wish it to be legroped for all time. But the very party which objected to that leg-roping upon one question, now wishes us to adopt an entirely different attitude upon another question. In the one case, we were asked to bind” the Commonwealth by a constitutional provision, to a financial arrangement. Here we are asked to bind it in regard to a matter of railway construction.
– One was an improper thing to do, whilst the other is a perfectly proper thing.
– That sort of reasoning does not appeal to me. If it was wrong to bind the Commonwealth in one case, it is equally wrong to bind it in the other.
– Why does all the opposition to this Bill come from the east?
– The honorable senator asks a question which is based upon assumption, and not upon fact. Upon previous occasions, a great deal of the opposition to this Bill has emanated from places which are not east of South Australia.
– There were a few benighted southerners in the last Parliament.
– And there are probably a few benighted ones here. The honorable senator wishes the interests of the Commonwealth to be made subservient to those of South Australia.
– We ought always to suspect men who talk about national undertakings.
– Every time that the country is to be saddled with something which will cost a great deal of money, and which will benefit only a few, the enterprise is spoken of as a great national one. The next paragraph in the agreement which I desire to see eliminated provides that the Commonwealth shall - .
At the time of such surrender acquire from the State at the price and on the terms hereinafter mentioned, the Port Augusta railway, including 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 moveable plant and rolling stock.
All the provisions which I desire to see deleted from the agreement relate to railways alone. All I ask is that the Commonwealth, after it has taken ever the
Northern Territory, shall be free to build a railway wherever it may deem it wise to do so.
– If the honorable senator is prepared to recoup South Australia her indebtedness upon the Territory, how will he arrive at the cost of constructing the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line, which was built for the purpose of developing that Territory ?
– We have only, had an ex -parte statement. If that country is of any use at all, this railway is necessary for the development of it, but if the country is of no use, why should we be asked, not only to take over a non-paying railway through it, but also to continue the railway for several hundred miles through equally useless country? It is not necessary to carry a railway through that country if there is good country elsewhere through which it can.be carried.
– Where is that?
– We have been told that there is good country.
– Where ?
– We have been told that there is good country in various places.
– In Queensland?
– As I have said, nobody knows yet where the good country is, or where the bad country is, because we have not had a proper investigation of the subject.
– Does the honorable senator think that we have time to-night to discover it?
– The honorable senator knows that it is not my fault that I was asked to move an amendment at this hour.
– The honorable senator has taken a long time to do very little.
– I shall take as long as I please without any compliment to the honorable senator. He made himself as nasty as he could to one of my colleagues a little while ago.
– I shall make myself just as nasty to the honorable senator if he likes.
– The honorable senator can please himself.
– We are not a bit afraid of him.
– Order ! I ask honorable senators to cease these interjections.
– It is not my fault, sir, that I was asked to move an amendment at this hour. I made a respectful suggestion to the Minister. He did not see fit to fall in with it, and then I proceeded to accord with his wish by starting to submit the amendment. It is a very important amendment, and one which should be considered from every aspect. Honorable senators are now face to face with a proposition which means the expenditure of many millions of Commonwealth money. I do not know how many millions it involves. I have heard the sum estimated at £15,000,000 and at .£20,000)000. I am not concerned with the actual amount, because every one knows that it will cost an enormous sum. It cannot possibly be less than an expenditure of £12,000,000 that we shall be faced with during the next few years. That is a very serious proposition to the people of Australia. With the population we have, that will mean, in round figures, a further indebtedness of £3 per head. Before we incur that enormous responsibility, we should pause and give the matter the most serious consideration possible. If we intend to expend that money, then we should determine that it shall be spent in such a way as will do the greatest amount of good to the people, promote the greatest amount of settlement, add to our wealth-producing power in the greatest possible degree, and enable the greatest possible number of persons to settle and make a living on the lands that we propose to develop. I maintain that until we get more information than we have at present we cannot say how we can expend the money in order to “accomplish those great objects, and that the Commonwealth should not be tied up with regard to the spending of it until it does know which is the best way to act. I do not propose to say any more on this subject tonight. Possibly I may have a little more to say after it has been debated. I shall content myself now with moving -
That after the word “ Agreement “ the following words be inserted : - “ with the exception of paragraphs b, c, d, e, /, g, and h of clause 1 thereof.”
If that amendment is made, the clause will read -
The Agreement, with the exception of paragraphs b, c, d, e, f, g, and h of clause r thereof is by this Act ratified and approved.
Senate adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100920_senate_4_57/>.