4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether the Government have received from the Government of South Australia, within the last month or two, a letter regarding uniformity of gauge and other matters in connexion with the transcontinental railway - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta - and also whether during that time they have received any communication from the Premier of Victoria?
– The honorable senator mentioned in the chamber that he was given to understand that, since the printing of the letters which appear in the parliamentary paper, the Premier of South Australia had communicated with the Commonwealth Government on the question of uniform gauge, and that the letter had not been printed. I have had inquiries made at the Prime Minister’s office and the Home Affairs Department. No trace can be found of any letter having been received from the Premier of South Australia since the parliamentary paper was printed. I did not understand the honorable senator to say at the time that a letter had been received from the Premier of Victoria.
– I am not quite sure. I wanted to know whether a communication had been received during the last month.
– I made no inquiry on that point. No letter has been received by either of the Departments I mentioned since the parliamentary paper was printed.
– Some statements have appeared in the press indicating that there has been correspondence between the Government of Queensland and the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the landing of Russians from Manchuria in that State. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council be good enough to table the correspondence, even though it is only placed in the Library, so that honorable senators can have an opportunity to see whether the statements in the press are correct or not?
– I am not aware that any correspondence has been received. I understand that any statements which have been made have arisen out of an interview between the Vice-Consul for Russia and the Minister of External Affairs. I have made inquiries, but can got no reply with respect to any correspondence.
– A little time ago I asked the Minister of Defence a question regarding the training of cadets at Shepparton, in Victoria. He has informed me that he is now in a. position to answer the question, and I therefore re-submit it.
– I sent on to the Adjutant-General for report the statement of the honorable senator who drew my attention to a newspaper paragraph.
– What was the question ?
– The statement in the newspaper paragraph was that, owing to complaints regarding the excessive drill of a number of cadets, the matter was brought under the notice of the local council, and that it decided to enter a vigorous protest against the harsh manner in which senior cadets were drilled. The officer in charge of “A” Company Senior Cadets at Shepparton, who I may mention is also a teacher at the school, reports as follows -
Re reportthat several boys fainted at drill; I desire to point out, firstly, that the statements referred to do not concern the senior cadets, but were made by the school committee in reference to the school boys.
The statements are misleading, and grossly exaggerated.
The following are the facts : - Some time ago one boy, named Henry Lear, faintedwhile doing physical exercises. An inquiry elicited the fact that the boy had a weak heart, andwas subject to fainting fits, having one day previously fainted while standing alongsidethe school fence in the playground, during recess.
I would also like to mention that during th summer months we have frequent complaints from children who feel unwell, both inschool and out. The ratio, however, of those who feel unwell out of school to those who complain in the class-room is only about one to five or six. That is, five or six children complain, or get permission to leave the class-rooms, to one getting permissionto leave the drill lines.
We make a special point here of drilling, as far as possible, in the shade, and not only give “ Stand Easy “ frequently, but allow a rest every ten or fifteen minutes. The drill is, therefore, one of the most pleasant and healthful of our lessons, and during the hot weather it is quite refreshing to get into the fresh air, out of the vitiated air of the class-rooms.
– The report will certainly be reassuring to honorable senators, but it is not a full answer to my question. What I asked was, whether drilling was going on, irrespective of the drilling which was authorized by the Department, and for which it was responsible. The answer does suggest that there is some drill going on with which the Department has nothing to do.
– Yes, physical drill is carried on by the Education Department of the State independently of the Minister.
– This officer is acting in a dual capacity.
– He is a cadet officer and also a schoolmaster who evidently conducts physical drill for the State Government.
– Some clays ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether he would place on the table of the Library some papers regarding a conference of postal officers on defective telegraph poles and arms. The honorable senator kindly placed the report on the table, but I find that it does not contain all the information I desire to see. Will he be good enough to place on the table the evidence on which the report was based?
– I shall take the earliest opportunity to get the information which the honorable” senator desires and place it on the table.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
.- I move -
That during the remainder of the present session, Government business, unless otherwise ordered, take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper except questions and formal motions.
At the approach of the end of the session it has been the practice for the Senate to give precedence to Government business unless otherwise ordered. In view of the fact that yesterday’s sitting was terminated before the dinner hour, it is the intention of the Government to set aside an extra night for the consideration of private business. Under the terms of this motion it will be possible to allow to honorable senators for private business any time which may be available. As the following motion providing for Tuesday sittings is sure to be carried, there will be no difficulty in that regard. If there is any other time available before the close of the session, those who have private business to submit will receive every consideration.
– I do not feel inclined to carry my objection to the length of voting against the motion, but I cannot allow it to pass without uttering a protest. I know that it is submitted in accordance with the practice of many years. As the end of the session is thought to be approaching, the time which is ordinarily allotted for private business is asked for by the Government and allowed, more or less graciously, by the Senate. I think that the idea that the session must end at a certain time because Christmas is at hand is more or less of a fetish.
– Order !
– I take it that this motion would not have been moved at this juncture were it not for the fact that it is intended that Parliament shall be prorogued about three weeks hence because of Christmas time.
– Who said so?
– Surelythe honorable senator need not have made that interjection when the newspapers told us clearly only a couple of evenings ago that in another place the Prime Minister stated definitely that he was moving a similar motion because the Government desired to finish the session on this side of Christmas. That is my answer to the Honorary Minister’s interjection.
– The honorable senator would not prevent the representatives of distant States from returning to their homes for Christmas?
– Certainly not. I am just as anxious as. is any honorable senator to spend the approaching Christmas with the members of my family. But there is no necessity for this motion at the present juncture, for the simple reason that there is no need for the session to end within a few weeks. With a brief vacation, it might be continued, just as was done on at least one occasion since the inception of the Federation. I am quite sure that the VicePresident of the Executive Council will adhere to his pledge, and give whatever time may be available to private members for the transaction of their business. But we do not need to ask how much time that will be.
– It will depend entirely upon honorable senators.
– If we are to complete the programme which has been put before us, there will be no time available for the transaction of private members’ business, and it will only be the result of an act of grace on the part of the Government if a few hours are devoted to the consideration of that business. I do not profess to be a. greater glutton for work than is any other honorable senator ; but I cannot allow this occasion to pass without uttering my protest against private members’ business being sacrificed, merely because there is an established idea that the session should close at a certain period. It would be better for the country if Parliament adjourned for a few weeks, and then re-assembled to complete the consideration of the business which we desire to transact.
– Whilst I intend to support the Government proposal so as to allow as much time as possible to be devoted to the consideration of Ministerial business. I, like Senator O’Keefe. hope that there willbe no undue haste displayed to close the session. I cannot see how it is possible for us to complete the programme of business which has been put forward by the Government before Christmas. 1 feel sure that we shall have to re-assemble immediately after the New Year. The Government should insist upon finishing the business which they have to put before Parliament, irrespective of how long it may be necessary for the session to continue.
– Let us sit till Christmas twelve months, if it be necessary.
– That is a lovely suggestion after the long recess.
– I can assure Senator St. Ledger that we are going to have no long recess this time. The “stonewalling “ tactics of certain members of the Opposition will not prevent the Government from pressing the consideration of their business to a conclusion, no matter how long it may be necessary for Parliament to sit. I hope that we shall adjourn about the 15th December, and that we shall resume our deliberations about the second week in January.
– I felt some little surprise that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should have resumed his seat without giving us some indication as to the future intentions of theGovernment. But we have been let into the confidence of the Ministry by the good grace of Senator de Largie. I take it that his statement was fully authorized, and that in future he is to be accepted as the spokesman of the Government.
– I did not speak for anybody save myself.
– The honorable senator said that the Government were going to do this, that, and the other. The arrangement may be an excellent one, but at least we were entitled to an official intimation from the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he had abdicated his position, and that henceforth Senator de Largie was to be the authorized spokesman of the Ministry in this Chamber.
– The Whip is always privileged.
– He is always entitled to every privilege that he may choose to take to himself. This motion is one which we had a right to expect, in view of the condition of the business-paper. But the reason it is put forward now is not owing to the position in which we find ourselves to-day. but owing to what happened when the Senate first met at the beginning of the present session. We had only just assembled after the longest recess on record, when the Government had to tell us that they were unprepared to proceed with business. That is the only reason why it is necessary to adopt these heroic measures at this stage. Had they devoted the recess to the preparation of the Electoral Bill it would not have been now necessary to take from private members the opportunities which ought to be theirs. After glancing at the private members’ motions .which appear upon the business-paper, one can understand the grim satisfaction which the Ministry must experience in being able to side track at least two of those proposals. Whilst I deem it right to make this statement as to the view which I take of the action of the Government, I say that, having met Parliament unprepared to proceed with business, there is no other course open to them now but to make this inroad upon private members’, business. For that reason I do not oppose the motion.
– If, instead of taking away from honorable senators the time which should be devoted to the consideration of private members’ business, the Government had proposed that the Senate should meet on Monday instead of Tuesday I should have heartily supported them. I agree with Senator de Largie that we are not going to have a long recess, and that after a brief vacation at Christmas it would be better for the Parliament to reassemble for the purpose of concluding the consideration of the Government programme than to hasten the session to a close now. It is the opinion of a majority of the Senate, and also of a majority in another place that there is no occasion for hurry. Upon the last sitting of the Senate, when I saw the heroic measures adopted by the Opposition to debate questions in the way that they ought to be debated, I was more than ever convinced that the Government should offer it facilities for more lengthened discussion. That end can be obtained only by the Senate meeting on two or three extra days each week.
– In such circumstances, would it be possible for Ministers to attend to their administrative work?
– The duty of a Minister is to see that the work of his Department is done. If he has not officers who will perform the work which is intrusted to them he cannot overcome the difficulty by the Senate adopting a motion of this character.
– But then the rubberstamp view will come in.
– There is no need for a Minister to be a rubber stamp if he sees that the work of his Department is properly done.
– How can he see that it is properly done if he never attends at his Department?
– I want to see in office Ministers who will lead Parliament and control their Departments.
– The honorable senator would not sign papers without first reading and understanding them? That takes time.
– I quite recognise that. But if in our Departments we have not officers who can be trusted to inform Ministers of the contents of official papers, it is about time that we got some honest representation there. This proposal seeks to take away from honorable senators the time which should be devoted1 to the consideration of private business. I can quite understand some persons regarding that business as of very little importance. But if, amongst all the chaff of private members’ business, there is to be found one or two grains of corn, honorable senators ought not to be denied an opportunity to have their proposals considered. That ii the only way in which they can put their views before the country. We have also to recollect that what may be an unimportant matter to-day may become an all-important question within twelve months. There is not the slightest need for the statement that the session is nearing its end. Personally, I would rather see it continued. I do not know why there should be any long recess ; indeed, I fail to recognise why there should1 be any recess at all. I am quite willing that ‘we should adjourn for a short period1 in order to allow the representatives of distant States to return to their homes for Christmas. With that end in view, I favour a short adjournment over the approaching festive period, and re-assembling again early in January or February. I believe that a majority of the Senate view the adoption of that course with favour. Sufficient business should be transacted toremove from the minds of members of the Opposition the idea that the time of the country has been wasted. Owing to the Coronation festivities which took place in London this year, we had an extraordinarily long recess, and this recess should certainly be followed by an extraordinarily long session. But that time was not wasted’. As far asI am concerned, I can say that it was most profitably spent. I want to see all the measures on the Government programmedealt with. We shall have the Banking
Bill before the Senate shortly, and it is only reasonable to expect that the measure will be debated at considerable length. But we shall not gain the necessary time for the purpose by curtailing the few hours devoted to private business. What the Senate should demand, in my opinion, is that the Government, realizing the almost unanimous desire of honorable senators supporting them for a long session, and that the Opposition are of the same mind, should give us sufficient work to do to occupy us up to the time for taking a short Christmas vacation. I suppose that I can speak for the Opposition, as I am at the moment standing amongst them, with just as much authority as Senator de Largie was assumed to be speaking for the Government. Realizing that the majority are so anxious for work, I hope that the Government will reconsider their decision. Let us sit on Monday as well as on Tuesday. If the session were prolonged well into the autumn, I have not the slightest doubt that the measures on the Government programme would be carried after being thoroughly debated ; whilst, at the same time, the Ministry would have the satisfaction of knowing that they had complied with the wishes of the majority.
– I think that the present trouble originated through the -Government not being prepared to meet the Senate with business earlier in the session. The Electoral Bill was delayed, with the consequence that we were required to sit something like twenty-eight hours at a stretch to get through it. Some honorable senators are very anxious about private business. As far as I am concerned, I think that private business is practically a farce. When it is dealt with, there is seldom more than a bare quorum present. Honorable senators clear out immediately Government business is finished, and it is always difficult to maintain a quorum. That has been the case ever since I have been a member of the Senate. Interest in private business is not sufficient to keep honorable senators on both sides present. To a large extent the time devoted to such business is wasted.
– Our present Defence system originated from debates during private senators’ time.
– The)re (may be a grain of wheat in a bushel of chaff, but, speaking generally, it is difficult to keep a quorum for the consideration of private business. Last night, for instance, after sitting for twenty-eight hours, honorable senators desired to go home to bed, and private business was not proceeded with. I make no complaint against the motion, nor shall I object to the proposal to sit on Tuesday, but I do not think that we should expect Ministers to meet Parliament on Mondays as well. A large amount of departmental business has to be done, and a conscientious Minister will not be content merely with reading ‘ and signing papers. If 1 were a Minister, I should like to read every document of any importance that I had ‘ to put my name to. If any mistake in administration is made, Parliament holds the Minister responsible.
– Parliament holds the Minister responsible for departmental officers’ mistakes.
– But he would not be much of a Minister who would shelter himself behind an officer.
– Certainly not ; a Minister must take the blame. I do not object to Parliament sitting after Christmas if necessary. It will not inconvenience me ; indeed. I think it is my duty to be here if there is business to do. I hope that next session the Government W 111 be prepared to bring forward measures early in the session so that we shall not have- such a pressure of work towards’ the close.
– It is scarcely possible to submit any motion relating to the business of the Senate without encountering some amount of opposition. I thought that I had furnished all the explanation that was necessary. With respect to the remarks of Senator O’Keefe, Senator de Largie, and others, who are excessively anxious to continue working even .into January, I may state that they need not be alarmed in the slightest degree. The Government have a programme of work to be disposed of before Parliament is prorogued, and they intend to do everything they possibly can to carry that programme into effect. It does not matter whether we close the session before Christmas or after - the Government intend to do their work. Reasonable people must admit that that programme is not excessive, and if honorable senators diligently stick to their work and do not occupy time unreasonably we believe that we can complete the work before Christmas.
– By sitting all night several times.
– It is not the programme of any Government that makes it necessary to sit all night. Such occurrences are due to obstructive tactics. We were guilty of the same sort of thing when we were in opposition, and cannot blame our present opponents. But the Government are not responsible for what they do. With respect to the remarks of Senator Gardiner that we ought to sit every day. in the week, I have to say that a Minister has far more work to do than merely to present business to Parliament. A Minister who does his work conscientiously must be in his office sometimes, or he must bring his officers up to Parliament House to do business with him here. Senator Gardiner says that a Minister ought to be able to take the word of his chief clerk or departmental secretary, and that if they cannot be relied upon they ought not be there. Suppose Senator Gardiner were a Minister, and were continuously engaged in Parliament, Would he be prepared to sign papers when a departmental officer brought them up to him and said, “ Here, Mr. Minister, sign these documents; they are all right.”
– What would prevent a Minister from going into his private room and reading the papers there?
– Then he would not be able to hear the words of wisdom ihat fell from honorable senators. I trust that Senator Gardiner will realize the absurdity of expecting Ministers to do their administrative work properly if Parliament sits continuously. They must pay personal attention to their departmental business if they are to take the responsiblity for it.
– The Prime Minister was away for nine months last year, and the work went on in his absence.
– I understood Senator Sayers to say that we might have gone on with private business last night, but that honorable senators evidently had no inclination for it. How could the work have been carried on if there, was no inclination to do it? What we are now proposing has been the practice of the Senate in the past. Private senators will certainly not suffer at the hands of this Government more than they have suffered at the hands of previous Administrations. I admit that private business is of very great importance. A great proportion of the legislation that has been passed was at some time or other brought forward as private business. The advocacy by private members of Parliament of certain urgent reforms has ultimately culminated in important Acts of Parliament.. Therefore I attach considerable importanceto private business. But the work that the Government have brought before Parliament has to be done, and it ought to be done in time to allow reasonable opportunties for honorable senators to go to distant States.. If we cannot do the work before Christmaswe shall have to meet again next year. But would it not be absurd to have an adjournment for a month or six weeks, allowing: members of Parliament who live in Queensland and Western Australia to go home, and then bring them back again for the purpose of sitting for a week or two in the new year? With regard to the time proposed’ to be taken, if it becomes urgently necessary we can sit on Monday and Saturday aswell as on Tuesday. We could have morning sittings each day if that were necessary. It is quite possible for us to do the work before . us if we earnestly set our minds to it. I hope that honorable senators interested in private members’” business will not be unreasonable. The Government will endeavour to treat them fairly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That during the remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Tuesday be a meeting day of the Senate, and that, unlessotherwise ordered, the hour of meeting on that day be 3 o’clock in the afternoon ; and that, unless otherwise ordered, the hour of meeting onWednesday be 2.30 o’clock in the afternoon.
– I recognise that this motion is associated with that which has just been agreed to, and I might not have spoken upon it if Senator McGregor had not gone out of his way to misrepresent my views as to the duties of a Cabinet Minister. Ministers must trust their officers in respect of the majority of the documents they are called upon to sign, but if there are any which they must read over and sign, they have private rooms in this building in which that work might be done. They might be more profitably employed in doing that work than in the performance of the task, which is evidently uncongenial to Senator McGregor, of listening to their own supporters upon matters being discussed in this Chamber. We are continually being told that if there were additional sitting days, and longer sittings, Ministers would not have the time to attend to their Departments. I repeat my statement that a Minister is in the position of a foreman of works, and a foreman of works who does the work of his men himself is a very poor foreman. It is the duty of a Minister to see that his departmental officers :are working. He should not work himself to an early grave by trying to do work which his officers are better fitted to do. In making this statement, I do not desire to be misunderstood. I do not think for a moment that a Minister should he what has been very well described as “ a rubber stamp.” It is the duty of a Minister to defend his Department from any attacks made in Parliament, and to put before Parliament the Ministerial and departmental view upon every question under discussion. Ministers would have ample time for that if there were an additional sitting day in the week. I interjected, perhaps rather heatedly, that in the absence of the Treasurer the work of the Treasury Department was carried on for mine months.
– There was another Minister acting for him.
– I had overlooked that fact.
– Mr. Frazer acted for him.
– But Mr. Frazer was a Minister all the time. No additional Ministers were appointed during the very proper absence of the Prime MinIster’ in attending two of the most important functions that have occurred in my memory - the opening of the Parliament of the South African Union and the Coronation. If all these documents have to be read and signed, no doubt Senators de Largie and McDougall might be prevailed upon to accept positions as Honorary Ministers to attend to some of them.
– Then they would “have to be away from Parliament.
– I do not wish to impose additional work upon Ministers, but their work in Parliament and at their Departments is not very arduous. It is not half as hard as the work of a navvy on a railway line or as the lumping of bags on a wharf.
– Order ! I remind the honorable senator that the question is as to whether there should be an additional sitting day, and not whether the work of a Minister is hard or not.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. I intended to move that Monday should also be appointed an additional sitting day, and I wish to give as a reason that, arduous as the work of Ministers may be, it is not as hard as lumping on the wharves or navvying on a railway line, and yet the men doing that work have to work on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I believe that if we had longer sessions there would be no occasion to complain of want of time in which to do the . whole of the business of Parliament. If Ministers came before Parliament with a definite programme of the work ito be done, and it was understand that that work would have to be got through, there would be less waste of time in frivolous debating with the intention of embarrassing the Government by crowding the work at the’ close of a session.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the debate on the Naval and Military Decorations Bill ?
– I recognise that in proportion to the importance of that measure, there was an enormous waste of time in discussing it.
– The honorable senator is out of order in referring to previous debates of the same session.
– I recognise that I may be out of order in discussing a previous debate, but surely I may be permitted, when the Government are asking for an extra sitting day, to point out that they were prepared to waste a week in the discussion of a measure which the country had never heard of before the Minister introduced it. I might put that forward as a very good reason, if one were so inclined, for opposing the request for an” additional sitting day now. This system of short sessions enables those opposed to the Government to debate measures at greater length than is necessary in the hope of forcing the Government to rush measures through in order to close the session and enable honorable senators to get to their Homes for the Christmas. I hope the Government will realize from the debate that there is a desire, if not for continuous sessions, for, at all events, long sessions. There is no desire to close the present session when there is a large amount of work which the Government should carry out.
– The work might have been done by now if the Government had been ready in time.
– No Government can be ready for everything.
– We wasted the first month practically in doing nothing.
– We know that so far as the character of their measures is concerned, the present Government have succeeded in carrying more important legislation than was carried by any previous Government in the history of this Parliament. I might refer honorable senators to the Defence Act, the Naval Construction Act, and - notwithstanding the opposition there was to it - the Land Tax Act, which latter affects only the wealthy in the community. Then, we have dealt with the transfer of the Northern Territory and the Federal Captial question.
– Order ! The honorable senator is discussing the business of last session, and not the motion before the Senate.
– I made the statement as a reason why there should be no hurry on the part of the Government to conclude the present session. I was pointing out the number and magnitude of the measures which the present Government have already passed, and I did that in reply to interjections. I think that such a splendid record might be considerably added to if it were not determined to bring this session to a conclusion in December, as apparently the Government intends. I hope that, in reply, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will let us know whether the Cabinet will fairly consider the proposal not to bring this session to a conclusion in December, but to continue it in January and until such time as all the business which the Government have to lay before Parliament is passed into law.
– I do not think, from whathas already been said, that there is any reason why any one should imagine that the Government do not intend to carry all the business which might legitimately be dealt with in the present session. There is no occasion to compare the work of a Minister with the work of men lumping wheat on the wharves or navvying. I have had experi ence of all these things, and I know which is the easier job. I do not require to be reminded of it. Still, it is possible to work members of Parliament and. Ministers to death. It is absurd to suppose that the only duty of a member of Parliament or of a Minister is to be present wrangling with others in the legislative chambersHave they no duties to the electors or to the general public? Would Senator Gardiner like to be deprived of every opportunity of putting his views before his constituents? Would he like to leave them like sheep that have gone astray, to forget who he was? That would be the result of our sitting here on six days in the week. If an honorable senator has any interest in the political concerns of the country, he must endeavour to educate its, people, as well as to sit and argue in Parliament. I would like every honorable senator to understand that the duties of a member of Parliament are not confined to attending here in session. If there is any necessity to come back after Christmas, the Government will put no obstacle in the way.. They will endeavour to carryout their programme; and, as I have stated, they will, if necessary, sit on Mondays,and also in the mornings, in fact, occupy all the time, and endeavour to complete the work. If the work is not done before Christmas, then honorable senators will have an opportunity to return and complete it after Christmas ; but it has to be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 23rd November, on motion by Senator Pearce (vide page 3085)-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- When the debate on this measure wastemporarily closed yesterday, I had dealt with several points which I desire to againmention. In the first place, I said that the question of constructing this transcontinental railway should not be settled without consulting the wishes of the States.I thought it was an assumption of authority by the Commonwealth Government to adopt the gauge of 4 ft. 8½ in., which would be practically the gauge for Australia forall time; because that was essentially a business and engineering proposition which should be submitted to experts before a’ final decision was come to. I also showed that there was no Commonwealth promise that the line would be constructed. That statement has been repeated over and over again ; but I read letters which showed that there was no promise binding the Commonwealth. I stated that, up to the present time, the best engineering authorities and experts had been ignored. I pointed out that the State of Queensland was constructing transcontinental railways, and not asking any help from the Commonwealth Government. I reminded the Senate that the States had constructed their railways at their own expense. I urged that we need a specific policy as to a unification of gauges. I mentioned that, during the last twenty years, countries similar to Australia had, as a rule, ignored the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, and adopted a wider gauge after due inquiry, and on the authority of the- best engineering experts. I stated that America bitterly regretted that it had not adopted a wider gauge. I urged that this transcontinental railway cannot be expected to be a success unless it is associated with an immigration policy. I showed that, in America and Canada, the railways had been carried out mainly by private enterprise or corporations, and had always been associated with an immigration policy which had tended to the settlement of the land, and the -success of the railway policy. I contended that, unless our railway policy is associated with immigration, it is bound to be a failure. Further, I showed how the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge came to be adopted in Australia : it was adopted on the authority of not of engineering experts alone, but also of laymen. I also expressed the opinion that the proposed cost of the line is far too low. I referred to the cost of lines throughout Australia, and the fact that no lines of this character have been constructed at anything like the proposed cost. I expressed the view that if the line were constructed at anything like the estimated cost, it must be at the expense of efficiency and profit. I also drew attention to the very vagueness of the information which has been supplied regarding the question of water supply. I pointed out that we did not know the quantity which would be available, that the water which was available had not been analyzed, and that probably it would be found unsuitable for use in railway engines. I read that part of the Minister’s speech in which he referred to the question of using internal combustion engines, and so doing away, to a considerable extent, with the necessity of providing a water supply.
– Do you say that in Australia no railways have been constructed on the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge for the amount per mile which we estimate in the case of this line?
– The line from Parkes to Condoblin and the line from Dubbo to Coonamble were constructed by New South Wales for less than ^2,500 per mile.
– By day labour, too.
– If the honorable senator will look at 713 of the Official YearBook, he will see the particulars.
– Later the Minister will have an ample opportunity to complete his case. In His speech he quoted this passage from the report of Mr. Deane -
If the internal combustion principle can be applied to the locomotives used on the railway, the provision for water can be much reduced, and it might be safe to reckon on bringing the cost down to, say,’ £250,000, as the water requirements would then be confined to station purposes and household use.
Referring to that report, the Minister made these remarks -
The question of using the internal combustion engine is being closely inquired into by Mr. Deane, who believes that at present the outlook is very promising, and that he will be able to recommend the use of the engine on this railway. If that is so, there will be very important developments in railway construction’ in the dry areas of Australia. I confess that, until recently, I knew little or nothing about the internal combustion engine, but possibly what I have learned may be of information to some honorable senators. It seems that it is an engine which uses oil, and the explosion caused by the ignition of the oil supplies the driving force. It does not use water for steam power as in the case of an ordinary locomotive. It only requires water for the cooling of the cylinder in which the explosion takes place. It is really an oil engine applied to a locomotive, and as the water for cooling the cylinder can be used over and over again, a locomotive will have to carry only a small quantity, and therefore the question of water supply will be a very simple proposition. Previously the difficulty has been that they have never been able to get in one engine more than 200 horse-power. On an ordinary train that would not be sufficient, because some of our trains require 1,400 horse-power. But in America they are carrying out an experiment ; they attach an internal combustion engine to each truck or carriage, and therefore get a multiplication of 200 horse-power. By employing five vehicles you would therefore get 1,000 horsepower, and by using ten vehicles you would obtain 2,000 horse-power, and so on:
That sounds very well, but on inquiry of experts I find that the Minister’s contention is not very tenable. Such engines are used to a very limited extent and experimentally on branch lines abroad. They are not used as locomotives for hauling trains, but as engines attached to single cars. The Minister is quite right in that respect. They attach an engine to each car. If the American examples are quoted by the Minister on his own initiative, they are absurd, and if they are given on advice they are inexplicable. I am told on the best authority -
The proposal is unworthy of serious consideration.It cannot be admitted as a valid excuse for reducing the cost of the water service by some£400,000. It would require a skilled driver to each vehicle.It would thus enormously increase the working costs. If it is said that one driver could attend to several or all, think what that would mean in the case of the necessity for a quick emergency stop to avert accident. It would prevent all interchange of stock from the roads of States - fatal for military use.
It seems to me that, while the proposition is very attractive, it is very illusory. From what I can gather, it is not likely to be carried out, and hence the cheapening of the cost of water supply from £600,000 to £250,000 odd will not be justified. The Minister also dealt with the question of revenue and expenditure. He did not confine himself to indorsing the estimate of revenue and expenditure which has been put forward by the engineer. Nothing that we have before us will enable us to check the accuracy of the items. The only basis on which we could arrive at any conclusion would be the accuracy with which a non-constant and non-existent traffic could be estimated. We have not the least idea of what will be the volume of that traffic. We cannot tell what it will amount to either in passengers or goods. All the statements which have been made in regard to the development of Western Australia from the stand-point of agriculture merely show that the needs of that State in the matter of imports will not be so great in the future as they have been in the past. Consequently it will not require the same volume of goods from the Eastern States, and therefore the traffic which will travel over the proposed line cannot be judged with anything like accuracy. The estimates which have been submitted to us have been framed by engineers, and I ques- tion whether they are the proper authorities to inform us as to the volume of the prospective traffic. I have gone into the matter very carefully, but I have not been able in any way to check the figures which have been supplied to us, or to offer an opinion of my own. At the present time I do not think that any authority is able to gauge with any degree of accuracy what will be the volume of traffic over the proposed railway. The Engineers-in-Chief of the States, are no more fitted to make an estimate in this connexion than is any ordinary individual. I have before me an estimate of the number of passengers who travel from the Eastern States to the various ports in Western Australia. I was unable to obtain the tonnage of the goods which are carried to that State from the Eastern States, although I know the value of those goods. But the figuresgive very little indication of what the future will be. We cannot tell how many persons will prefer to travel by sea rather than by rail, and therefore it is impossible to say what will be the passenger traffic over this transcontinental railway. The Minister of Defence also touched upon the question of the gauge to be adopted on the line and of its influence in determining the gauge for Australia. He admitted that whatever gauge we adopt the States will be compelled to adopt. He also said that the Government “had to face this question and settle it.” I fail to understand why that: is so. They have not a railway department. They have no railway experts except those who are temporarily employed by them; they have not made inquiries into the conditions under which the States arerunning their railways, or into the reasons why countries in which similar conditions prevail to those which obtain in Australia have declined to adopt a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. It is true that some countries have adopted a smaller gauge, but only for a special reason - because the territory to be traversed is of a mountainous character. In no other instance has a country sacrificed a larger gauge for a smaller one in respect of its main trunk lines.
– What about Canada?
– I will deal withCanada presently. I would like to know by what authority the Government claimthat they have “ to face this question and settle it,” without even giving the States an opportunity to make inquiries into it.
– That statement is not correct.
– It is.
– Have not the States, through their experts, decided the question again and again?
– They have never settled it.
– The honorable senator himself has proved it.
-No person has had authority to settle this question for the States.
– What authority have we?
– None. There has been no definite pronouncement on the part of the States as to what gauge should be adopted.
– That should be the result of a Conference of impartial experts.
– Statements have been made by persons who have met in conference, and who have been authorized to express an opinion there, but there has been no authorized expression of opinion on the part of the States. The EngineersinChief were requested by the Acting Prime Minister to meet early this year, not for the purpose of settling the width of gauge, but for the purpose of ratifying a decision in favour of the 4-ft. 81- in. gauge, which had been arrived at years previously by the Railways Commissioners. They declined to do that. The Minister of Defence scorns the idea of the Premiers settling this question. But I would point out to him that they would not settle it from their own knowledge. I recognise that this question affects the States of Australia commercially, industrially, and developmentally. It is only by a meeting of the Premiers of all the States interested that it can be settled. I am aware that it involves contingent interests - interests which are none the less actual and potent. I say that the States should not be subjected to compulsion in this question, because they are sovereign States, and should be able to settle it for themselves. If it be not settled in accordance with their desires, they may refuse to convert their railways to a uniform gauge. They may say to the Commonwealth, “ Unless you enable us to get the best advice that we can, so that in determining the width of gauge of this line we shall be acting on the experience and advice of the best experts obtainable, we shall refuse to convert our railways to the gauge adopted by the Commonwealth.” Inthat case the utility of the proposed transcontinental railway will be largely nullified, whilst for defence purposes its value will be enormously reduced. The States should be consulted in this matter. This can be accomplished either by a Conference, or by the appointment of a Commission, or by transmitting cablegrams to those countries which, as the result of experience,have adopted a broader gauge during recent times. Ireland was a long time before she decided the width of gauge which she would adopt. The same remark is applicable to India and Russia. We shall hold ourselves up to the scorn of future generations if we fall into error as the result of determining this question without due inquiry.
– Why doesthe honorable senator refer to the case of a small country like Ireland, and omit to refer to Great Britain?
– The honorable senator must know that I point to Ireland because her decision in regard to the width of gauge of her railways was arrived at years after a decision was arrived at by Great Britain, and was also come to in the light of more experience and greater engineering knowledge.
– Even the originator of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge says that he does not know why he fixed that gauge.
– Exactly. I have before me his very words. George Steverson himself said that if he had to construct his own lines he would adopt a gauge a few inches wider than the 4-ft. 8½-in., as he regarded that as the best. The decision arrived at by the Government to adopt a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge is practically a one-man decision.
– Supposing that the honorable senator’s opinion were called a one-newspaper opinion?
– I am not deciding the width of gauge which the Commonwealth should adopt. All I ask is that time should be allowed for due inquiry to be made as to which is the best gauge. That is all that Victoria and South Australia demand.
– Does the honorable senator think that the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge is the best?
– For a country like Australia I think that a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is preferable. I repeat that the EngineersinChief at a Conference which met in Melbourne merely indorsed an arrangement which was arrived at by the Railways Commissioners years previously. As a matter of fact, that agreement was made before the Commonwealth was inaugurated. The Commissioners desired to adopt a uniform gauge with as little interference to the ‘financial position of the States as possible. Accordingly they viewed the matter merely from the stand-point of the cheapness or otherwise of converting the lines. That fact in itself nullifies their decision upon this question. It has been affirmed during this debate that the War Railway Council was unanimous in recommending the adoption of a 4-ft.8½- in. gauge. But the facts are otherwise. Mr. A. B. Moncrieff entered a strong protest against that gauge, and Mr. Thallon wanted further inquiry to be made before any decision was arrived at. The Minister has stated that to his own personal knowledge Mr. Thallon did not object to the gauge which was recommended by the Council. But, as a matter of fact, the honorable gentleman was not present at that gathering except for a very short time. He merely opened its proceedings, and then retired. The Minister referred to the question of widening tunnels. He said -
The Railways Commissioner for South Australia was a member of that Council, as was also the Commissioner for Victoria. Both of them signed those recommendations.
– Were they unanimous recommendations?
– They were.
I think that the Minister was in error in making that statement that the recommendations were unanimous.
– The statement is absolutely correct.
– Mr. Thallon entered a rider to the effect that inquiry should be made, and up to the present time Mr. Moncrieff is not in favour of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
– He was.
– He is not. I have seen a letter of recent date on the subject. He appeared to be very indignant indeed that his protests had not been put in the report, and the Minister has no right to say that Mr. Moncrieff is in favour of the narrower gauge.
– Hesigned the War Railway Council’s report, and did not say that he dissented from it.
– There were onlyfour engineers on that Council, which had no right whatever to decide the matter. It was njerely an advisory body.
– That is another question.
– Their advice had to go before Parliament. They had no right to decide the question, and they were not deciding it. They were merely expressing their own opinion. Those members of the Council who were not engineers were no more qualified to give an opinion on the subject than is any member of Parliament or the man in the street.
– This Parliament has power to decide the question, and we are going to decide it.
– The honorable senator thinks that because he has the numbers he is going , to “ bull dose “ this thing through. But he will not do so without strong protest.
– Thisis the only place where the question can be settled.
-Quite right; and that is the reason why I am expressing my opinion.
– The honorable member has done nothing but read the opinions of other people.
– The Minister himself did not speak from his own knowledge. He had to rely on expert evidence. This is a highly technical question, which has to be decided on outside knowledge. I have been making inquiries amongst engineers and others.
– I have been listening patiently to the honorable member, but I have had about enough of this.
– I am not addressing my remarks particularly to the honorable senator. The Minister went on to speak about alterations of tunnels. He said -
Let me point out some of the reasons why we should adopt the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge in preference to the 5-ft. 3-in. In the first place, to alter the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge to4-ft. 8½-in. would involve no alteration of tunnels, embankments, bridges, and stations. But, on the other hand, to alter a 4-ft.8½-in. gauge railway to 5 ft. 3 in. would necessitate enlarging every tunnel, every bridge, and, later on, every station, leaving out of consideration for the moment the rollingstock.
– With the exception of the stations, I do not think that the statement is a fact, because many of the tunnels and embankments are wide enough to allow of the alteration.
Later on the Minister said -
Either you must build another line while you are altering the tunnels or you must stop the traffic altogether until the alterations are completed. On the railway betweenMelbourne and Adelaide there are sixteen tunnels.I ask honorable senators to think of the dislocation that would be involved on thatline if the width of the tunnels had to be extended. But by converting a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway to 4-ft. 8½-in. there need be no such dislocation.
The Minister ought to have known that there would be no occasion to alter the tunnels on the Melbourne-Adelaide line.
– I said so.
-It was a curious illustration to give, because the Minister knows that if we were to adopt the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge no alteration of these tunnels would be required.
– I said so further on in the speech.
– The Minister referred to the Hawkesbury tunnel, and he said -
There are railways in Australia where tunnels have been constructed on the 4-ft. 8½-in gauge. There are such tunnels on the Hawkesbury line in New South Wales.
The Minister could not have looked into this matter very thoroughly, or he would have known that it is not such a difficult thing to alter tunnels.
– Oh, is it not? It is a very important thing !
– I know that it is very important ; but it does not involve the stoppage of traffic, and it need not be so very costly. In Vol. 7 of the proceedings of the Victorian Institute of Engineers, there is an account of a discussion on this subject in December, 1906. This was a gathering of some of the finest engineers in Victoria, and we may take it that the considerations laid before them would be indorsed by engineers elsewhere. The question of altering tunnels, even on our 5-ft. 3-in. gauge Victorian lines, was discussed, because it was said that some of them were not so wide as they ought to be. It was said in the course of the discussion -
How about double lines and the 6 feet centre space? Here the condition is far from satisfactory. We have on the Bendigo line our two largest and most expensive tunnels - namely, those al Elphinstone and Big Hill. Built in the very early days, when rolling-stock was diminutive, they show a maximum width of only 25 feet, and this only at one level, below and above which the width diminishes, so that 24 ft. 6 in. will be the fair equivalent as between vertical walls. In this restricted space two 10-ft. bodies have to pass, leaving only 4 ft. 6 in. for the central and two side clearances, or only 1 ft. 6 in. each. This is far too small, and in the writer’s opinion, the enlargement of these tunnels should receive early attention. Both are lined throughout with brickwork 1 ft. 10 in. thick, and what ought to be done is to construct a new lining outside the old one, and then remove the old lining. This would increase the width from 25 feet to 2S ft. 8 in., which would be none too large for modern requirements. In fact, while they are about it, they might as well give 30 feet, or double the width of the single line tunnels. The cost of this enlargement should not be prohibitive. Many tunnels have been enlarged in other parts of the world ; the ground is good, and with modern experience and methods the work could probably be done for the two tunnels well within£100,000. A serious accident, due to insufficient clearance, might easily cost as. much. Bridges would be dealt with moreeasily than tunnels, as it would be necessaryto take down one side only, and slightly lengthen the girders; and it is further to be noted that we are fortunate in having a comparatively small number of our bridges, and only two tunnels neither very long - to deal with.
It will, therefore, be seen that altering tunnels is not an insuperable difficulty. It can be done at a reasonable cost, and without interference with traffic.
– The passage read says that it would mean taking down one side of a bridge, and yet the honorable senators says that that would not interfere with traffic
– I have explained what the engineers say.
– The Minister knows better than the engineers.
– I was referring to Senator McColl’s comment that the alterations would not interfere with the traffic.
– My point is that tunnels could be enlarged without interference with traffic.
– I think the honorable senator had better stick to dry farming.
– That is a very state joke for an honorable senator with such a. caustic intellect to fall back upon. If we are to have a unification of gauges in Australia, our rolling-stock must be able to go everywhere. If we adopt the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, however, and are to have heavier engines, even New South Wales lines will have to be altered, because you could not take the heavy engines of to-day, such as are used in the United States, over New
South Wales lines. If those engines were dumped on to the New South Wales 4-ft. 8i-in. lines, there would be trouble. at the first clearance. The lines would have to be built up. Referring again to alterations of tunnels, engineering authorities point out that a new tunnel can be turned outside an old one, leaving the brickwork of the inside tunnel to be removed later on. Senator Pearce referred to laying down a third line. He said -
You can put a third rail on a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line to bring it to a 4-ft. 84in. gauge, because you can put it conveniently inside the existing rails. But you cannot put a third rail on to a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge line to bring it up to 5 ft. 3 in., for the simple and obvious reason that by so doing you would get too near to the end of the sleepers.
This question of laying third rails has also been discussed by the Institute of Engineers, and I will quote an opinion that has been expressed on the point. This method is recommended as one way of getting over the difficulty of break of gauge. At a Conference held in Melbourne on the subject of Australian railway gauges, at which some of the finest engineers we have were present, the following statement was made by Mr. F. K. Esling, one of our leading engineers -
With reference to the proposal of the third rail, he thought it was sufficient to say that, as a railway engineer, he would condemn that straight out. Any one who had had experience in designing points and crossings and interlocking must know that there would be terrific difficulties. Take, for instance, the Flinders-street station. In each direction leading away from the station they encountered a three-girder bridge, viz., the two lines of way were carried by one middle girder and two outside ones. There was very little clearance of the girders, therefore where could they put that third Tail ? Clearly, there was only one way possible, and that was inside the other rails, 65 inches away. That meant that they got so much closeT to the girders, with the overhanging on the opposite side of the 4 ft. 8 in. stock. To lay a third rail in the Melbourne stations they would practically have to reconstruct the whole of the bridges, and most engineers would know that that would be a gigantic task.
Supposing they were running two tracks, such as they would have shortly, on the new Saltwater bridge, they would reduce the central clearance by about 6^ inches, and with the very wide carriages now being used that was absolutely dangerous. A carriage door opening might cause a disaster there. And the same thing applied to platforms. If they widened the space between the footboard and the platform by the use of a third rail, it was probable that passengers in the rush to board a crowded train, would put their foot between the footboard and platform. To overcome all the difficulties would be almost impossible. The only way he could see would be to design a rail of the “ bridge “ type, with a very deep slot in the middle, but that would lead to so much trouble afterwards that he did not think it would be ‘practicable.
– Who is Mr. F. K. Esling ?
– He is one of our leading Victorian engineers. The discussion was on “ The Problem of the Gauge of Australian Railways,” and the proceedings are recorded in the November number of the Victorian Institute of Engineers. The speaker whom I have quoted was Mr. F. K. Esling. There is some further evidence on the subject here which might be interesting to honorable senators -
asked if Mr. Esling would care to give an opinion on the question of the third rail in regard to safety. He had dealt with it on the ground of mechanical advisability. It might be that the rail could be made mechanically possible. Theoretically, even the interlocking might be accomplished. But on the basis of safety, did Mr. Esling think it would be the thing to use if they could by any means avoid it? There was another correlated mode of transferring from one gauge to another : that was the movable sleeve on the axle. One of the wheels was keyed to a sleeve, and that sleeve was by automatic or other means ad justed on the axle where a break of gauge occurred. His own experience, gained in actual railway practice, was that there must be no adjustment which might or might not be made. There must be, for safety, absolute rigidity of connexion.
Mr. Esling said he objected very strongly to the third rail. In railway work they wanted the utmost simplicity. They did not want complication. Even with the best of inspection and plain boxes and axles, rolling-stock gave enough trouble. But if they introduced the sleeve wheel and axle it would almost certainly lead to disaster. They required absolute simplicity and rigidity in railway working.’
So that that proposal is absolutely out of court, according to the opinion of the best engineers in Victoria. The question was also raised as to the necessity of getting fresh sleepers; but I point out that the existing sleepers on the New South Wales line are longer than are required for the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge, and there would be no necessity for the use of new sleepers until those now laid down required to be renewed in the ordinary way as the result of wear and tear. Ministers said a little time ago that Canada may be referred to as a country in which the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge has been adopted. But, as a matter of fact, the experience of Canada might be quoted in favour of my contention. It is true that lines there on a wider gauge than 4 ft. 8£ in. were altered subsequently to that gauge; but I point out that the. Canadian lines were built very largely by British capital. British capitalists were interested in the construction of 4-ft. 8½-in. stock, and they naturally desired that that stock should be introduced into the United States and Canada. It was introduced, and it was found desirable later, because of the necessity for a uniform gauge, to alter some lines built on a broader gauge of 5 ft. or 5 ft. 3 in. Just as in England, because there were so many lines built on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, and that gauge was suited to the physical character of the country, so it was found in Canada necessary to alter to ihe 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge lines which had been built on a broader gauge. The companies constructing the lines were British companies, and British engineers built the lines on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
– The Canadian gauge was determined entirely by the gauge of lines already in existence in the United States.
– The Canadian com panies had to conform to that policy. I might further point out that the Canadian lines were in a very different position from ours, because they were owned by private companies.
– They were isolated systems, and the engineers might have adopted any gauge they pleased.
– That is not so, because they had to connect for interchange of traffic with United States lines on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
– At what points?
– At a dozen different points, as the honorable senator will see if he consults a map. I repeat, again, that the Canadian lines were in the hands of private companies, and were run for profit. Those concerned in their working did not care what might best suit the country fifty or seventy years later. Their sole desire was to make a profit on their lines, and the lands granted to them for the construction of those lines. They looked to present profit, and not to the future. The first cost of lines on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge was somewhat less than the cost of lines on a broader gauge, and the Canadian companies gave no consideration whatever to the question of conversion, if that should be necessary later on. So honorable senators will see that the argument deduced from the experience of Canada does not apply. This question is an absolutely technical one. The Minister of Defence said -
I unhesitatingly commend the Bill to the Senate, and trust that whatever criticism may be directed toward it, it will be of a national character. I earnestly hope that we shall have no parochialism introduced, but that the proposal will be judged on its merits. I have no doubt that if that be done honorable senators will resolve that we ought to be prepared to shoulder the responsibility of doing something to develop the vast unpopulated interior of Australia.
I agree with that statement, and I do not wish to bring parochial interests into the discussion of this question.
– No one would ever think of charging the honorable senator with that.
– No; but Senator de Largie is permeated with parochialism. This question of gauge is not one into which parochialism should be permitted to enter. It is eminently technical in all its aspects, and it is utterly impossible for a layman to understand its ramifications. I certainly think that we should hold over thequestion of the gauge to be adopted for this railway for due inquiry in the national and Australian interests to which the Minister of Defence referred. Mr. Deane, the consulting engineer, has issued several reports on this subject. I do not propose to deal with the whole of them, as that would take too long, and no doubt other honorable senators will desire to refer to them. He has addressed himself particularly to the question of the unification of gauge. He issued a report on the 20th September of this year, in which he deals at considerable length with the question of unification and the historical aspect of the question. I notice that in that report he has glided very lightly over earlier factors, which, of course, reflected very great discredit on New South Wales, the State from which he came, and the State which was really responsible for the break of gauge. He also deals with the methods to be adopted for the conversion of gauge, and refers to the use of a third rail, which is opposed entirely by expert engineers. After this report’ is issued, the question of unification of gauge was dealt with by outside engineers, and we have a report on a uniform railway gauge by Mr. W. P. Hales. I do not know this gentleman, but I believe he is an engineer of repute, who has given lengthy consideration to the question. A memorandum by Mr. Deane is attached to Mr. Hales’ report. I do not propose at the present time to traverse the report, but I will refer to some comments made upon it by Mr. Deane. He admits that Mr. Hales presents a fair statement of the problem of the unification of gauges, but says that there are some points in the report which call for comment, and he goes on to say -
Mr. Hales makes a comparison between the advantages and disadvantages of the use of the two wider gauges of Australia, namely the 4-ft.8½-in. and the 5-ft.3-in. He does not lay any stress on the fact that the mileage of the latter exceeds that of the former, as he points out that the final selection depends on other considerations. It is to be observed, however, that if there were any argument to be drawn from this fact it is one that is yearly lessening in value, as the mileage of the New South Wales railways must, in the course of a few years, equal, if not exceed, the mileage of the wider gauge in Victoria and South Australia combined.
That argument is not worth anything, as the only question we have to consider is, which is thebest gauge to adopt. The fact that one State may at present have a few hundred miles more or less of railway construction than another should not influence the settlement of such a question. He also says that we could get rolling-stock from abroad, but we do not wish to do that. We should construct our own stock here to suit the gauge decided upon. He says further -
There is, of course, no doubt that a comparison of two gauges, even where the difference is only 6½ inches, points to an advantage in hauling capacity in favour of the wider gauge ; but the argument can be pressed too far. Mr. Harriman’s opinions were entitled to very great consideration, but his views of the inadequacy of the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge to meet the exigencies of traffic were certainly exaggerated.
I do not think Mr. Deane was justified in saying that. All the evidence goes to show that Mr. Harriman held very strong opinions on this question. He went so far as to say that if he had to commence making his railways again, he would adopt the 5-ft. 6-in. gauge, that the adoption of the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge had been disastrous, and that he was sorry that it had been adopted. Mr. Deane subsequently seems to have given very great attention to the question of gauge, and to the criticism which the proposed adoption of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge called forth from experienced engineers of repute. He has embodied his criticism in these matters in a review which he has published. It is not necessary to traverse all Mr. Deane’s reports, as he has included in his review the principal matters embodied in the reports. For his review he has had compiled a list of the various railways of the world, showing the gauges, on which they are run. The list includesrailways built upon gauges of from 5-ft. 6-in. down to as low as 3 ft. 6 in. ; and a statement is givenof the mileage of railways constructed on each gauge. I propose to discuss Mr. Deane’s review in the light of the information I have been able to acquire.
– Give him fits.
– No. I do not think the honorable senator should introduce the personal aspect into the discussion of this question. Mr. Deane is a strangerto me, but it is my duty here to say what I think in giving my views on this question. I wish to say nothing personal or disrespectful to Mr. Deane, or to any one else. I find from information with which I have been supplied by a. gentleman with great experience of railway engineering and economics that -
Me finds himself unable to admit the validity of many of the deductions relative to thesematters which have been drawn, or the conclusiveness of the data necessarily largely elementary,which has been submitted.
Any decision arrived at now must be vital in relation to the present welfare and future progress of Australia. It must be almost irrevocable. Hence the writer, as an Australian engineer, deems it his duty to submit dissent from the dictum that the4-ft.8½-in. gaugeis that most suited to become the Commonwealth national gauge.
Specific deductions dissented from -
That the 4 ft.8½ in. has been almost universally adopted.
That it is everywhere admittedly adequate.
That the inherent differences oftraffic capacity as between the 4 ft. 8½ in. and the 5 ft. 3 in. is immaterial.
That the cost of conversion from the- 4 ft.8½- in. to the 5 ft. 3 in. would greatly exceed the cost of converseprocedure.
That the question equally vital with that of gauge of the loading dimensions of the rolling-stock can be ignored.
Habitable area, present and prospective population, length of haul and topography, are the primary determinents of gauge width.
In the absence of proof of parallelismof condition, mere numerical enumeration of the States using a particular gauge, together with the total mileage thereof, is inconclusive.
The sub-joined tables will demonstrate this.
Let us take this list of railways which is compiledby Mr. Deane, and which is said to have been taken fromthe universal directory of official railwaysfor 1911, and is, therefore, the latest information on the matter, and compare the countries which have definitely adopted a gauge of from 5 ft. to 5 ft. 6 in. for trunk lines with the countries which have adopted a gauge of 4 ft.8½ in.
The ratio are as follow : - Gauge, 5 feet and over; area, 14; population, 41. Gauge, 4 ft. 8½ in. ; area, 10 (nearly) ; population, 42 (nearly).
The ratio of the area in which the gauge of 5 feet and over’ is used to the area in which the 4-ft.8½-in. gauge is used is as 14 to 10, while the ratio of the population in the former case to the population in the latter case is as 41 to 42. The statement has been made that the 4 ft.8½ in. has been universally adopted, but a very close inquiry into the matter shows that that is not the case. The area in which the gauge of 5 feet and over is used is very much larger than the area in which the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge is used, while the population is almost the same in each case. The table of railway gauges of the world which has been supplied to us contains seventeen instances in which the lengths of the 4-ft.8½-in. system are individually less than 1,000 miles; in some of the minor States the length is not 6 miles, being merely short lines. To take the figures in this list without inquiry would be very misleading.
The table appended to the review contains seventeen instances in which the length of the 4-ft.8½-in. systems is individually less than 1,000 miles. In some of the minute States it is not 6.
These citations swell the totals, but point no lesson, except, perhaps, that those lesser States have found it convenient to purchase their rolling-stock ready made.
Consider the question broadly, thus : -
Hear in mind the aggregate mileage of the Australian lines which it is proposed to unify. Remember the rate of their increase and the increase in other lands. Then glance down the “review” tables of gauges broader than 4 ft. 8½ in., and also the 4 ft. 8½ in. enumeration.
It will be grasped that ten years hence the broad gauge in two countries will still surpass the Australian mileage, but that, in turn, the Australian mileage will surpass that of any 4-ft.8½-in. gauge system, with two, or including Canada, possibly three exceptions only.
Averages deduced from . heterogeneous cases obscure the issues; like must be compared with like.
Mechanical engineers know that they can attain those former objects readily on a narrow gauge, even when the economic capacity of such gauge has been exceeded. But they know that it is at the cost of decreased safety and increased running and maintenance charges, and that it implies heavy additional capitalization consequent upon the strengthening of the roads, and Administrators know that they cannot meet these increased charges unless they maintain high rates. They know that the primary products carried over long distances cannot bear high rates. Therefore, when the economic capacity of a gauge is reached, or approximated, the carrying of such products- and incidentally developmental work- is discouraged.
That is a very important argument.
That discrimination is one of the charges made against Railway Trusts elsewhere; it would be even more inimical here.
The 5 ft. 3 in. presents, in comparison with the 4 ft. S? in., the possibility of handling economically a traffic some 20 per cent, heavier.
That is a very great margin in favour of the broader gauge, even if we determine to go to the extra cost of conversion. id) Conversion costs which but recapitulate old estimates deserve the closest scrutiny.
Analyses show that those costs cover the rectification of the accumulated error and ephemeral economies of the past.
Whichever gauge is adopted, whether unification is affected or not, then rectification must come with increasing traffic.
But they are not a sequence to unification. They should be clearly differentiated and separately stated.
Chief amongst these charges is the cost of eliminating those encroachments upon the rightofway resulting from petty economies or want of foresight in the past. On many recent lines, and, of course, on lines yet to be constructed, such costs do not arise. The report leaves this matter obscure in respect to new lines ; although the future mileage of Australia is the greater issue.
That means that, if railways are constructed simply with a view to cheapness, and not to carry heavy traffic in the future, sooner or later a rectification of the lines must come, which will involve increased charges and cost-
– What weight of rail are they going to use?
– I am not sure.
Divesting the matter of the relative cost of 5 ft. 3 in. and 4 ft. 8^- in. new lines of those technicalities which might confuse laymen, the matter stands thus : -
– Who says that?
– This is information which I obtained from a railway engineer.
Land, survey, engineering charges, cuttings, embankments, stations, signals, yards, engine sheds, and works, Sc., are capital charges permanently in common. Until the economic capacity of the narrower gauge is reached, rails, sleepers, ballast, and bridges are also items identical in extent and cost, when - but not until - the capacity of the narrower gauge is reached, and it becomes necessary to utilize the reserve 20 per cent, additional capacity of the broader gauge, these latter items must be proportionately increased.
In regard to rolling-stock handling equal tonnages. Fundamentally the capital cost, run ning and maintenance charges of the wider stock are somewhat the less.
The question of cross section colloquially,, height and width of rolling-stock, is a very vital one. It has not been given due prominence.
Were the Transcontinental line constructed on. the 4-ft. 8?-in. gauge, the Western Australian, lines being altered to conform, it is reasonable to assume that it will be insisted that at. present blunders shall not be perpetuated, and that the rolling-stock shall be designed to thefull width which experience has justified as. compatible with safety on lines of the samegauge elsewhere.
But in that case such stock could not pass, over the lines of those States where too narrowclearances exist.
The question cannot be evaded, for if interchange of stock is to be an essential - for military reasons it must be - then this dilemma arises.
Either the freight capacity of the supposititious 4 ft. 8i in. future line of the Central and Western States must be reduced to the capacity of an arbitrarily reduced rolling-stock capacity’: or the clearances of the 4-ft. 8?-in. lines of the Eastern States must be rectified.
But if, from any cause, it is determined torectify these matters, it matters hardly at all in regard to cost whether the alterations are to accord with the 4-ft. 8^-in. or the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
Dealing further with the review of Mr. Deane, the writer of this memorandumsays that the clauses do not disclose -
Mr. Deane states ;
At a meeting of the Railway War Council in February last, the Chief Commissioners of the States being present, the question of gauge was discussed, and it was unanimously decided torecommend the adoption of the ‘ 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge.
T have already pointed out that Mr. Thallon dissented from that recommendation because he considered that, before being committed to it, an inquiry should be made into the cost of converting the lines in the various States. Mr. Deane goes on to say -
From the time that the subject first came up it was always understood that the expense of altering the “5-ft. 3-in. gauge to one of 4 ft. 8i in. was not to fall on Victoria and South Australia alone, but that New South Wales was to share the cost.
There is no such understanding. Yet all applications to the Government for an answer to this question are met with the reply “Pass the Bill first.” I hold that this question of conversion, and of who is to bear the cost of the operation, should be definitely settled before we pass this measure. Mr. Deane proceeds -
When the decision of the Railway War Council was arrived at, it was agreed that the cost of connecting up the capitals with the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge should be fairly borne by the Commonwealth, not the individual States.
What was the use of the War Railway Council agreeing? Its members had met as military experts to deal with certain matters in regard to defence. They had no right to issue a definite pronouncement upon this question. It is an engineering question - not a military one. But, in Mr. Deane’s report we are treated to political history rather than to engineering experience. I say that these bodies were merely advisory, and, as such, had no right to state that they always understood that a certain thing was to be done.
– They ought not to have tendered any advice. I suppose?
– It has not been decided that the Commonwealth shall bear the cost of converting the State railways to a uniform gauge. The report sets down the cost of converting the different lines to a 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge at ,£2, 000,000 odd. But we have to consider a larger question, namely, the cost of converting the 3-ft. 6-in. lines to the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. This is a matter of great importance to Queensland. Later on, Mr. Deane says -
The 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge has been adopted in nearly all countries, and nearly 70 per cent, of the total mileage of the railways of the world is of that gauge.
That statement is not correct. I have already shown that the adoption of the wider gauge is larger in ratio of area, and that, from the point of view of population, it is nearly as large as in those countries which have a 4-ft. 8l-in. gauge.
– Both of which reasons are ridiculous. The mileage is the test.
– If that be so, I would point out that in other countries, during the last twenty or thirty years, the broader gauge has been adopted in every instance.
– Is it not an ascertained mechanical fact that the wider the wheels of a vehicle are apart the harder they are to pull?
– Countries in which the 4-ft. 8-^-in. gauge has been adopted bitterly rue the fact, and would gladly convert to a wider gauge if that course were possible. But Australia occupies a position different from that which is occupied by any other country. It is sea-girt, and self-contained, and is free to adopt any gauge that it may choose, irrespective of the consideration’s which obtain in other countries. The gauge which has been adopted in China is of very little importance, because in that country there were only 8,000 miles of railways with a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. Japan, which has hitherto adopted a. 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, is now substituting for it a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge, because it is a wider gauge. In this connexion we have also to recollect that Japan is a hilly country. We look to Japan as a possible enemy in the future, and that is one strong reason why we should not adopt a similar gauge to that which she has adopted. If we do so, she will, in time of invasion, merely have to tranship her rolling-stock in order to obtain the full use of our lines. That is a substantial reason why we ought to view this question from the stand-point of its effect upon the country. We are further told in this review -
India adopted a 5-ft. 6-in. gauge, but somelime afterwards it was considered unnecessarily wide, and since then the metre gauge has been used for a large part of the system. At the present time there is a length of 23,201) miles of 5-ft. 6-in. gauge in India, and 17,22, miles of metre gauge, so that no deduction can be drawn from Indian practice.
That statement is misleading. There has been no abandonment of the 5-ft. 6-in. gauge on the ma i it trunk lines of India. It is true that the metre gauge has beenadopted in ^ hilly country, where the cost: of haulage is enormous. But the statement that India has considered the gauge of her main trunk lines to be unnecessarily wide, and the implication that she is substituting; the metre gauge in lieu thereof, are absolutely incorrect. The selection of the broad’ gauge for India was deliberate and upon’ the highest authority. Copies of officialminutes appended prove it. The 5-ft. 6-in. gauge in India was only considered: too wide for pioneering work and for secondary feeding. There is omission to record the fact that the question of any alteration of the 5-ft. 6-in. gauge was declared to be a question closed ; that it is the accepted trunk line gauge, that the mileage of those trunk lines is growing at a greater rate than the mileage of the metre feeders, and that the substitution of a 4 ft. 8J in. for a metre gauge has been refused sanction. That is another half statement of fact which is calculated to mislead. I can quite understand why India has adopted a 3-ft. 3^-in. gauge* in preference to a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge on her main lines. It is all a matter of the difference between the cost of the two systems. That difference of cost is set out in several places in Hie Record of the Victorian Engineers for 1906. There information is supplied by Mr. Mais, who was at one time Chief Engineer of the New South Wales railways, as to the relative cost of a 5-ft. 3-in. and a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge on level and mountainous country. The 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line was constructed for £3,659 per mile on level country, whereas the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge cost .£4,355 Per mi,e - a difference of only £696 per mile. But upon mountainous country the difference is very large indeed. The average cost per mile of constructing 3 miles 3 chains of railway “upon a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge in this class of country, including .£800 for stations, was .£36,016. On the other hand, the cost of constructing a railway with a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge in the same country, a distance of 3 miles 78 chains, was £237,990 10s. 4d., or an average cost per mile, including £800 for stations, of £64,265. That is the reason why India has adopted the metre gauge in lieu of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge for mountainous country. We are also told that -
The gauge of Russia and Siberia is 5 feet, which is, after all, only a rounding o(T of the 4 ft. 8^ in. dimension, the extra 3^ inches giving no appreciable advantage. It is positively stated that some of the Siberian lines were laid down to a wider gauge than 5 feet. If so they have been altered so as to conform with the narrower gauge.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I find that Mr. Deane, in his review of the gauge question, says -
The gauge of Russia and Siberia is 5 feet, which is, .after all, only a rounding o(f of the 4 ft. 8^ in. dimension. The extra 3^ inches give no appreciable advantage.. It is positively stated that some of the Siberian lines were laid down to a wider gauge than 5 feet. If so, they have been altered so as to conform with the narrower gauge.
This idea that the Russian authorities made the gauge 5 feet for the purpose of securing an easily expressible figure is ingenious, but not convincing. There were some wider gauges, and they have been brought down to 5 feet, which shows that the circumstances of Siberia compelled the authorities to adopt the uniform gauge; just as the circumstances of our country will compel us. References1 are made in Mr. Deane’s review to Spain and Portugal. He says -
The principal railway gauge of Spain and Portugal was, and continues to be, .5 ft. 6 in.’, but one would not fly to those countries for an example how to act.
I do not understand why there should be these contemptuous references to Spain and Portugal. It is surely a convincing argument that these countries adopted the broader gauge long after other countries in Europe had adopted the 4 ft. 8 J in. They were able to obtain the best engineering advice before deciding. References to the experience of Spain and Portugal are at least as valuable as those to South American Republics. Spain and Portugal now have 9,493 miles on the 5-ft. 6-in. gauge, 1,185 miles on the metre gauge, and 65 miles on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. That is striking evidence of the superiority of the broader gauge. In Spain the first railway was built in 1848, long after the English and continental gauge had been decided upon. The most rapid period of development was from 1855 to 1865. The first Portuguese line was built in 1853. There was, therefore, ample experience to go upon at that time. Mr. Deane further says -
The principal gauge of the Argentine Republic is 5 ft. 6 in. On the other hand, Brazil, which has a greater mileage, has adopted the metre. A considerable, length of railway in South America is laid to the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge.
That also is wrong. Brazil has notaban cloned her broad-gauge trunk lines. It must be remembered that the bulk pf the Brazilian lines consist of about 18,000 miles of minor gauges, exploited under some seventy foreign concessions. In some instances the Government guarantees interest, and in other cases it does not. But these lines were constructed independently, not in accordance with a general national policy. They were for the most part constructed under concessions to foreigners, mostly for local reasons, or for profit-making purposes. These examples therefore cannot be taken as a guide for a country such as ours. Brazil is at present considering a more definite railway policy, and an extension of trunk lines in the Amazon basin ; and, as I gather, there is a strong .probability that these extensions will be on the broad gauge. The statement that Brazil has adopted the metre gauge for trunk lines requires confirmation. It must also be remembered that Brazil on the coast is very mountainous, though in the centre it is flatter, and much more like our own country. Mr. Deane has also something to say concerning North America -
North America leads the way with the 4-ft. S£-in. gauge. The United States and Canada had a great variety of gauges, but now almost complete uniformity to the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge has been arrived at. Mexico has over 7,000 miles of this gauge. .
Most of us know by this time how it came about that the United States adopted that gauge. But, according to statements which have been published and not contradicted, the best railway authorities in America now wish that a broader gauge had been adopted. I have endeavoured to get some fresh information on this point, but was not able to obtain what I wanted. However, an engineer of high repute - not a railway engineer, but one who is in touch with leading^ engineers in America - has sent the following statement to one of the newspapers -
In the discussions reference has been made to the statement of Mr. Harriman that the American railway gauge is too narrow for effective operation of trains. I heard Mr. Harriman make that statement in a public address at Kansas City. He said - “ The 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge worked fairly well wilh the smaller locomotives and light trains of the early days of rail-roading, but with the larger locomotives and heavier trains of to-day, which are necessary for the economical transportation of both passengers and freight, the gauge is too narrow. It does not permit of a properly designed fire-box, and this causes great waste of fuel. The tall and heavy locomotives rock on the track like a ship at sea, and cause an excessive wear on both track and machinery. The gauge is too narrow for the proper design of passenger cars and economical design of goods trucks.” He further stated :- “ In his judgment one or two things were inevitable in American practice, either the widening the gauge to 6 feet or the abandonment of steam and the electrification of all train service by which the power could be applied at a number of points to the train. The difficulty of changing the gauge on American railways is such that this will probably never be carried out. But American railway managers are seriously considering the lengthening of ties, because the increasing weight of locomotives renders the present width of the support wholly inadequate to the strain imposed upon it. As far as American conditions and American experience go it is in favour of a wider gauge than 4 ft. 8i in., and it is almost certain that if American railway managers had an opportunity to. now choose a gauge it would be wider than 5. ft. 3 in. instea’d of narrower.
I wrote to Mr. Elwood Mead, to ask for information regarding his experience. I received the following reply : -
Re American experience in the railway gauge question I have nothing sufficiently definite to. be of any service to you. I simply know that there is a general agreement that the 4-it. 8^-in. gauge is too narrow for the engines now in use. Last week I talked with Mr. Uttley, the Vice-President of the International ‘Harvester Company, who is interested in railways as well. He believes that the movement for the 4 ft. 8£ in. is a backward step, and that it would be bitterly regretted by Australia in the future.
It will therefore be seen that American experience does not count for very much when we are considering a new departure affecting the whole future of this country. Mr. Deane’s review continues -
As to the adequacy of the 4-ft. 85-in. gauge to carry traffic there can be no doubt whatever.. Some of the railways in Great Britain, Germany, and the United Stales of America have an intensity of traffic in excess of what Australia is ever likely to show. It is true ‘that expressions of opinion have been heard from some presidents and general managers to .the effect that a wider gauge will be desirable, but nothing very definite has been slated, and no satisfactory arguments have been brought forward1. It is probable that if the world began its railwaylaying again with a clean sheet something like the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge would be adopted. It is a good medium width, neither too “wide nor too narrow. Its capacity for traffic is very high, as will be -sen from the latest American practice in der’ -,- ing locomotives - the heaviest example of what weighs 37S English tons.
It is quite true that Americans are now building very heavy engines. In Australia our heaviest engines are not much over 100 tons. In Victoria we have some 110 - ton engines. But the question of mechanical possibility must be differentiated from that of economical efficiency. Whilst heavy engines are being employed in America, their employment has involved the strengthening of their structures. The opinion of American railway men such as Mr. Harriman and Mr. Hill - the latter of whom is still alive, and can be communicated with - cannot be lightly put on one side. Their opinions have never been controverted and disproved. The American engines that have been referred to could not be run on New South Wales lines at all without a considerable strengthening of bridges, culverts, and cuttings.
– I think they use 120-lb. rails in America.
– They certainly have very heavy rails. These heavy engines are not used in the ordinary way. They are used for slow running, and as pushers. That is to say, they push heavy trains at a slow rate of speed. They could not be employed under present circumstances for running trains at fast speed. Mr. Deane’s review goes on to say -
With regard to a recent controversy as to the superiority of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge over the 4-ft. 8i-in.’ gauge, the existing circumstances have to be taken into consideration. The cost of conversion of the Victorian and South Australian lines to 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge will be” considerably less than the alteration of the New South Wales railways to 5 ft. 3 in., as platforms, bridges, and other works would have to be widened. On the other hand, there can be no doubt of the adequacy ‘of the 4-ft. 8^-in gauge to meet all requirements. The Victorian carnages and waggons are no more capacious than those of New South Wales.
It is a recognised fact that the cost of conversion from 4 ft. 8J in. to 5 ft. 3 in. 1’ould be heavier than the converse conversion. But what we have to consider is the efficiency that will follow that conversion, and the increased benefits in the future. We have to consider the lesser charges that can be made for passengers and the carriage of stock and produce, and whether those considerations will not more than make up for increased present expenditure. The money could be borrowed and paid off by instalments every year. It is a matter for the very serious consideration of the Government. The statement that Victorian waggons made of late yea*r. have been narrower than the old stock, and that by the narrowing of them an injustice has been done to our producers, who must have been charged more for carrying their stock than they should have been, requires investigation. It will probably be probed further, and we shall find out who were instrumental in bringing about the change. I have my own idea, but I do not intend to mention names, because there is no doubt that the Victorian Government will look into the subject. The change was not made with the consent of the Government or the Parliament, and the present Government were utterly ignorant that the change had been brought about. Mr: Deane goes on to say -
In Great Britain, France, and United States express trains* are daily running to a time-table involving average speeds of over fifty-eight miles an hour; while at individual places, to keep up the average, speeds as high as seventyfive and eighty miles per hour must be attained. Originally, alf locomotives had inside cylinders, and, as increased power involved larger cylin ders, it was considered that there was not room enough between the wheels on the English gauge. American engineers, however, solved the difficulty otherwise, and placed their cylinders on the outside of the wheels, which method gives almost unlimited possibilities of increasing hauling power, and this practice of putting the cylinders outside has become almost universal, at any rate for long journey and freight locomotives, so that there is nothing gained in having the wheels a few’ inches further apart. Also, as regards fire boxes and grates, the wheels now placed under the fire box end are of small diameter, so that fire box and grate can’ be widened without hindrance.
Here again the question of mechanical possibility versus economical efficiency is involved. As a matter of historical fact, I am advised by reliable authorities that the Americans did not discover but adopted the method of outside instead of inside cylinders on locomotives. They adopted the English practice, and have never departed from it. British engineers rejected the outside cylinder type, and have consistently used the inside cylinder engine, excepting where there was abnormal traffic, and a narrow gauge precluded the possibility of doing so. Their reasons for adopting the inside cylinder engines are : steadier running, lower running costs, and lesser deterioration of the road-bed. The fullest contemporary documentary evidence and plans are available in support of this. These questions are exceedingly technical, and we can only decide them on the information we can obtain from the very best authorities. Only engineers can settle such questions. The statements made by Mr. Deane must be in error if the facts of which. I have been advised are correct. I do not propose to go through Mr. Hale’s report. It is a very able report, and, perhaps, other honorable senators may quote from it. The review I have presented to the Senate embraces all Mr. Deane’s contentions. I am aware that I have occupied a long time, but I have cut out a great deal of matter which I might have used. I might deal with the question of the prospects of the line paying, and when it may be expected to pay. There is also the very important point that no provision has yet been made by the Governments of Western Australia, or South Australia, for setting apart the land required for this line. Both are willing that the line should be constructed, provided they have not to pay for it themselves. It seems strange that we should be asked to pass a Bill authorizing the construction of 1,063 miles of railway when we cannot claim a single inch of the ground over which it will run. I repeat that there is no hurry in this matter, lt might well be held over until these technical engineering questions can be definitely and satisfactorily settled. Another point might very well be considered, and that is that some years ago a promise was made by the Western Australian Government to meet any loss on the Western Australian section of the line. The Minister who introduced this Bill in another place told honorable members that that promise still holds good, but. the Minister of Defence, in introducing the Bill here, said that it was not fair to ask such a concession, and the Government did not intend to ask. it. We have, therefore, on this matter, two contradictory Ministerial statements. The question of the water supply requires further consideration. We need more definite information as to the quantity and quality of the supply obtainable. We should know by chemical analysis if the water is fit for use in railway engines. I spoke to railway managers in America on this subject. One of their great troubles is that . nearly all the water that can be obtained on the plains is alkaline, and great difficulty has been experienced in getting water suitable for use in locomotives. I ascertained that some solution has been invented in America which has been found extremely satisfactory. It does away with the alkaline qualities of the water, and renders it fit for use in the engines. I can supply the Government with the name of this solution should it be found necessary to treat in a similar way the water obtainable on the route of this railway. Another question of very great importance is that of the route. 1 have been told by those who know the country well that the route ‘which has been recommended is not the best that could be followed. It is proposed to divert the line to Tarcoola, because of the gold.field there; but to run a costly railway by a longer route in order to connect with a gold-field that has not been a success may be a dangerous experiment. I am told that if this line were taken further south, it would go through better country, where there is more settlement, and little doubt that an ample supply of water for the engines could be obtained, and it would reduce the distance by 60 miles. With the idea that a line near the coast would be in danger from an enemy, I have very little sympathy. I believe that when an enemy can land a force in South Australia or Western Australia for the purpose of taking possession of this line, the British Fleet will be at the bottom of the ocean. We can, I think, put aside that objection to the choice of the best and shortest route.
– We can leave military matters out of consideration.
– I believe we ca’n.
– - Senator McColl knows better than Mr. Deane, Lord Kitchener, and every one else.
– Whatever Mr. Deane may know, he has not given us anything in his report that is worth listening to.
– I thank honorable senators for the attention they have given to my somewhat lengthy remarks. As I have said before, I have left out a great many things that I might have discussed. Any matters I have not dealt with may be referred to by subsequent speakers.
– Before proceeding with my speech, I may congratulate Senator McColl upon having given the Senate a great deal of very interesting information. It is evident that the honorable senator must have taken a great deal of trouble to prepare what he has said. Though I differ from him on the subject of the gauge, I must admire the pertinacity with which he submitted his views.
– Why does the honorable senator differ from Senator McColl on the subject of the gauge?
– I shall give my reasons in, a few minutes. The Commonwealth now possess a railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and I think it is only right that we should endeavour to complete the connexion between Perth and Adelaide. Many years ago, General Edwards, a great authority on military tactics, said he hoped the day was not far distant when railway communication would be established between the east and west of Australia. He was followed years. afterwards by General Hutton to much the same effect, and we have since had Lord Kitchener, I suppose the greatest general in the British Army at the present time, also advocating the construction of this line. In these circumstances, he would, I think, be a bold man who would oppose its construction. Personally, I was always in favour of a survey of the line, and voted with pleasure for the Bill to appropriate ^20,000 for that purpose. With all deference to Senator Millen, I think we have had very useful information presented as the result of it. It has relieved me of a good deal of anxiety as to what my course should be in dealing with this Bill. It is well known that throughout I have considered that we should be justified in following, to some extent, the example of Canada and the United States in the construction of this railway on the land grant principle. I am aware that the present Government have strong objections to land grant railways. They are under the impression, apparently, that even if we had the land, we could not make much use of it. I think that we could lease it in the course of time. I do not, in the circumstances, intend in Committee to abandon my advocacy of a land grant proposal. I was very glad to see from Mr. Deane’s report that there is a possibility of getting contractors to construct this railway, and accept land grants in part payment. As one who has been in a minority in the matter, this is to me somewhat reassuring. Senator McColl has given us a good many extracts from authorities, and I shall follow his example to some extent, though I promise not to occupy three hours in completing my statement. Mr. Deane’s professional standing is very high. I cannot forget that he was Engineer-in-Chief of Railways in New South Wales. He is now well known as a consulting engineer, and his opinion should carry weight with us all.
– Is he not still connected with the New South Wales Government ?
– He has severed his connexion with them ?
– Yes; he is in receipt of a handsome pension.
– Why did he retire?
– I suppose that, like other people, he considered that he had reached an age when he might have more leisure. In his interesting report on this railway, he says -
There is another proposition which is well worthy of consideration, and that is one put forward by Mr. Mayoh on behalf of J. Norton Griffiths and Co., a highly competent firm of engineers and contractors, who have been carrying out extensive works in other parts of the world.
If the Government wish to arrange for a maximum price, that is, to limit their liability to a fixed sum, the firm will agree to do this, provided that it receives half the difference between the guaranteed maximum and actual cost.
Mr. Mayoh, as an alternative, states that his company would be prepared to submit a tender for the line for a lump sum, payment in the event of acceptance being made in whole or part in Government bonds.
The company would also consider any suggestion for part payment on the land grant principle in quoting their price for the work.
I strongly recommend consideration of these proposals.
The following is a letter from Mr. J. Norton Griffiths to our High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, dated 2nd November,
I have the honour to put before you for the consideration of your Government the bare outlines of the proposal I sketched to you at our recent meeting regarding the construction of the Transcontinental Railway your Government are contemplating.
I am willing to undertake the carrying out nf the construction of your railway under the following general conditions : -
Some of us are aware that it is not unusual to have buildings erected on the principle of contractors “getting a percentage for superintending the work in cases where, because of broken’ work, it is difficult to estimate the cost. Mr. Griffiths’ letter continues -
I venture to think these suggestions will secure for your Government several advantages - first, experienced control ; second, a fixed limit of expenditure with a share in any reduction possible; third, freedom from financial risk.
I have summarized my proposal, and I am prepared to discuss any details which you might think should be further elaborated as soon as I have heard your Government are prepared to consider the suggestions’ in principle.
– Has he had any reply to that?
– No; there has teen no reply. Honorable senators will notice that Mr. Deane strongly recommends consideration of these proposals. They will have gathered that it is not my intention to vote against the second reading of this Bill. I think we should pass the second reading, though we may differ as to details in Committee. I intend to submit one amendment, and, perhaps, it would be as well at this stage to mention it. Senator McColl said, and said truthfully I believe, that in the days gone by there was an understanding that the Governments of the two States concerned - at all events, the Government of Western Australia - were prepared to give some kind of assistance towards constructing the railway by way of land grants. As against that statement, Senator Givens has said that the land along the route is worth nothing. If the land is worth nothing, why should not the States give it to the Commonwealth?
– Because we would have to bear the loss on the land and the loss on the railway.
– They object to the railway being constructed on the land-grant principle.
– Those who hold that view have only to look at Canada and the United States to see how the adoption of the principle has put those countries ahead. I propose to move the insertion of the following amendment in clause 3 of the Bill: - (3.) In order to, in time, partially recoup the Commonwealth for the capital expenditure involved in the construction of the Railway, it shall be a further condition, precedent to the work being entered upon, that the States of South Australia and Western Australia respectively shall reserve from sale and vest in the Commonwealth all the Crown lands in alternate sections of ten miles square on both sides of the line as ultimately adopted (exclusive of the reservations required under the previous sub-section) along its whole length throughout the territories of the respective States. Provided also that land shall not be so granted within fifteen miles of the terminal points of the line.
The length of the railway is supposed to be 1,063 miles, and if we deduct 15 miles at each end that reduces . the mileage to 1,033 miles. It is suggested that we should have 10 miles square of country along the route. That comes to 103,300 square miles, or 66,112,000 acres. Senator Givens says that the land is worth nothing. But taking it for granted that it is worth is. 3d. per acre, that area would be worth ^4,132,000. Therefore, in the course of time, it would pay for the railway.
– Mr. Deane’s estimate of land capable of carrying a sheep to 20 acres at is. 3d. per acre, would put the price of land to carry a sheep at a prohibitive rate.
– Never mind. I am prepared to believe that the land will be worth is. 3d. per acre when the line is completed. Clause 19 of the Bill pro vides that any private lands may be acquired by the Commonwealth. I intend topropose an amendment that State lands may also be acquired by the Commonwealth. I certainly think that some portion of the cost ought to be borne by the States which are to benefit. On the other hand, I am one of those, who, when the time comes,, will be prepared to vote that the Commonwealth, as such, shall bear the whole ex,pense of making the gauges uniform.Some person think that we, in New South Wales, ought not to pay anything; but I differ from, them. This is a public work, and1 each State should pay its share of the cost. But _ I think that we shall have to make a specialconcession to Tasmania, as it is an island, and will not benefit from the adoption of a uniform gauge. The next question arising is as to the gauge. In my opinion, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. Senator McColl has said, and said truly, that Mr. W. P. Hales, a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, gave a very interesting, and, I think, very valuable, report in regard to a uniform railway gauge. My honorable friend did not quote the report in full, and it is not necessary to do so, because it is available.
– Is he in favour of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge?
– I said that Mr. Hales made a report on a uniform railway gauge. I intend to quote different opinions on the subject. Mr. Henry Deane, to whose opinion I pay great deference, makes some comments on that report. Senator McColl quoted one or two passages, and I intend to quote a few. It does not follow because we sit on the same side that we have not the liberty to differ from one another. I credit my honorable friend with having tried to act quite fairly. He says that his object is to get the best information, and that is a very legitimate desire. My impression is that we have as much information as is absolutely necessary. Mr. Deane writes -
Mr. Hales has left out one important argument in favour of. the 4-ft. 85-in. gauge, namely, that in case of emergency and sudden shortness of locomotives and rolling-stock it would be easy to make up the deficiency from abroad, where so many engines and waggon shops are concerned in the manufacture of rolling stock for the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, whereas the opportunities of obtaining rolling-stock for the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge in the case of a sudden demand are exceedingly small.
On the other hand, Mr. Hales attaches too much importance to the possibility of realizing on the sale of rolling-stock in the event of the 4-ft. Si-in. gauge being condemned to eventual abolition, because the process of doing away with any particular gauge will be a matter of time, during which the system will be gradually changing, and the four-wheeled stock remaining in use will be gradually withdrawn on to the remoter branches. During the transition period - for there must be a transition period - the third rail will probably be used, and the last of this need not be removed till the rollingstock of the disappearing gauge is almost ready for the scrap heap.
There is, of course, no doubt that a comparison of two gauges, even where the difference is only 6£ inches, points to an advantage in hauling capacity in favour of the wider gauge, but the argument can be pressed too far. Mr. Harriman’s opinions were entitled to very great consideration, but his views of the inadequacy of the 4-ft. Si-in. gauge to meet the exigencies of traffic were certainly exaggerated. With us in Australia the day must be immensely remote when duplication and quadduplication are insufficient to provide the necessary increased facilities called for by the growing traffic, and if duplication and quadruplication will not meet the demand, the widening of the gauge by 6i inches will not provide a solution of the difficulty. The capacity of the standard gauge for carrying traffic may be easily underestimated. Most of our lines are single track, but when duplicated the facilities for carrying traffic would be enormously increased; there would be no waiting for crossings, and trains could follow one another in the same direction as close as the line could be split up into sections controlled by signal boxes, or still better by automatically-worked signals.
With regard to the hauling power of locomotives, it is probably not known, except to a few, what development is taking place. Here our heaviest locomotives and tenders weigh to’gether in working order, say, 105’ tons. In the United Slates the builders have succeeded in producing locomotives 500,000, 600,000, and 700,000 lbs. in weight successively. The most recent design is for a locomotive and tender weighing combined 850,000 lbs., or 425 tons American, equal to 378 British tons. Seeing that this result can be achieved with the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge, is it worth while going to increased expense to adopt a gauge 6£ inches wider.
I propose to rend a further quotation from Mr. Deane’s review of the gauges -
The State Railway Commissioners met in conference at the request of the Premiers in August, 1S9S, and recommended that the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge be adopted for unification. The cost of changing from 5 ft. 3 in. to 4 ft. Si in. in Victoria and South Australia is estimated at half that of altering from 4 ft. Si in. to 5 ft. 3 in. in New South Wales.
In 1903, the Engineers-in-Chief of the five States were called upon to report on the matter, and they recommended 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
At a meeting of the Railway War Council in February last, the Chief Commissioners of the States being present, the question of gauge was discussed, and it was unanimously decided to recommend the adoption of the 4-ft. Si-in. gauge.
From the time that the subject first came up it was always understood that the expense of altering the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge to one of 4 ft. Si in. was not to fall on Victoria and South Australia alone, but that New South Wales was to share the cost.
When the decision of the Railway War Council was arrived at, it was agreed that the cost of connecting up the capitals with the 4-ft. Si-in. gauge should be fairly borne by the Common.wealth, not the individual States.
The 4-ft. Si-in. gauge has been adopted in nearly all countries, and nearly 70 per cent, of the total mileage of the railways .of the world is of that gauge.
India adopted a 5-ft. 6-in. gauge, but some time afterwards it was considered unnecessarily wide, and since then the metre gauge has been used for a large part of the system. At the present time there is a length Of 23,209 miles of 5-ft. 6-in. gauge in India, and 17,225 miles of metre gauge, so that no deduction can be drawn from Indian practice.
The gauge of Russia and Siberia is 5 feet, which is, after all, only a rounding off of the 4-ft. Sg-in. dimension - the extra 3i inches give no appreciable advantage. It is positively stated that some of the Siberian lines were laid down to a wider gauge than 5 feet. If so, they have been altered so as to conform with the narrower gauge.
The principal railway gauge of Spain and Portugal was, and continues to be, 5 ft. 6 in., but one would not fly to those countries for an example of how to act.
The principal gauge of the Argentine Republic is 5 ft. 6 in. On the other hand, Brazil, which has a greater mileage, has adopted the metre. A considerable length of railway in South America is laid to the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge.
North America leads the way with the 4-ft. Si-in. gauge. The United States and Canada had a great variety of gauges, but now almost complete conformity to the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge has been arrived at. Mexico has over 7,000 miles of this gauge.
As to the adequacy of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge to carry traffic, there can be no doubt whatever. Some of the railways in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States of America, have an intensity of traffic in excess of what Australia is ever likely to show. It is true that expressions of opinion haS’e been heard from some presidents and general managers to the effect that a wider gauge would be desirable, but nothing very definite has been stated, and no satisfactory arguments have been brought forward. It is probable that if the world began its railway laying again with a clean sheet, something like the 4-ft. 8i-in gauge would be adopted. It is a good medium width neither too wide nor too narrow. Its capacity for traffic is very high, as will be seen from the latest. American practice in designing locomotives - the heaviest example of which weighs 37S English tons.
With regard to the recent controversy as to the superiority df the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge over the 4-ft. Si-in. gauge, the existing circumstances have to be taken into consideration. The cost of conversion of the Victorian and South Australian lines to 4-ft. Si-in. gauge will be considerably less than the alteration of the New South Wales railways to 5 ft. 3 in., as platforms, bridges, and other works would have to lbc widened. On the other hand, there can be «o doubt of the adequacy of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge to meet all requirements. The Victorian carriages and waggons are no more capacious than those of New South Wales.
In Great Britain, France, and the United States express trains are daily running to a time-table involving average speeds of over fifty-eight miles an hour ; while at individual places, to keep up the average, speeds as high ils seventy-five andeighty m miles per hour must be attained.
Originally all locomotives had inside cylinders, and, as increased power involved larger cylinders, it was considered that there was not room enough between the wheels on the English gauge. American engineers, however, solved the difficulty otherwise, and placed their cylinders on the outside of the wheels, which method gives almost unlimited possibilities of increasing hauling power, and this practice Of putting the cylinders outside has since become almost universal, at any rate for long journey and freight locomotives, so that there is nothing gained in having the wheels a few inches further apart.
T was rather surprised at Senator McColl ‘s reference to the table about the railway gauges of the world which is appended to this report, because, put briefly, the position is, that, out of eighty-one countries named, forty-five have the 4-ft. 8-iri. gauge. Not only that, but they have 65 per cent, of the total mileage. To my suiprise the honorable senator began quoting the areas of the various countries enumerated and their population. He left out one very important country, namely, China; which contains a population of 400.000,000 persons, and has 4,1.71 miles of railway, including 4,047 miles on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, and only 124 miles on what might be called the metre gauge. Then Japan, instead of adopting the 5-ft. 3-in. has adopted the metre gauge. It has 5,075 miles of this gauge. There are eighteen countries, including Germany, which have adopted gauges in excess of 4 ft. 8J in. But in Germany, out of 44,372 miles of railway, 41,021 miles have been constructed on the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge, 697 on the 5-ft. 4^-in. gauge, 24 miles upon intermediate gauges, 1,235 miles upon the metre gauge, and 1,395 miles on gauges of less than 3 ft. 6 in., not including the metre gauge. So that, practically, I can quote Germany upon our side. There are eighteen countries which, have adopted gauges in excess of 4 ft. 8 J- in., as against forty-five countries which have adopted the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge. Consequently, I fail to see why we should decry that gauge. Canada, out of a total mileage of 24,737, bas built no less than 24,239 upon the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge. She has only 498 miles of railway constructed on other gauges.
– What does that prove?
– lt proves that the Canadians are sensible people, and stick to the gauge that pays them best. I think we are all unanimous in saying that the cost of converting the main trunk lines in the different States to a uniform gauge ought to be borne by the Commonwealth. I believe that New South Wales is acting generously by taking up that attitude. But, after all, we are Federalists who recognise that there must be one uniform gauge at any rate on our main trunk lines. I am aware that in days gone by the Government objected to a policy of borrowing. But I presume they will have to pay for this railway out of loan funds. They would get 66,112,000 acres of land as the result of the construction of the proposed line should the States grant the areas suggested by my amendment. We have to provide £5,700.000 in connexion with the Northern Territory and its railways, which we have taken over. The line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta will probably cost .£4,000,000, and under the land-grant system it would probably pay for itself. Then our Defence Forces will necessitate a further outlay of £2,000,000 annually. It is evident, therefore, that we shall have to initiate a borrowing policy. I do not see why we should not. Australia would not be the country that it is today if the States had insisted on paying for public works out of revenue. I know of plenty of persons who cannot satisfactorily lend money. I am afraid that weshall have to look forward to an increase of the land tax, and even to the imposition of a Federal income tax, if we continue to follow the lines that we have followed during the past eighteen months. We cannot always expect to enjoy good seasons. At the present time a drought is being experienced in Queensland. My own opinion is that we shall have to adopt a bold immigration policy if we are to solve the difficulties which confront us. A good deal of correspondence has taken place between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments in reference to the width of gauge of the proposed line. In a memorandum addressed to the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs by Mr. Deane, and dated 1st August of the present year, I find the following -
The best method so far invented involves the use of the third rail producing the so-called mixed gauge. This is the method that was made use of in England when it was decided to abolish the broad gauge of the Great Western Railway. The change from that gauge to what is now the standard gauge was conducted with comparative ease and little interruption to traffic, and there is no doubt that if this can be done in Australia the difficulties of alteration will be minimized.
I may mention that the change in question was carried out in two days - a truly marvellous feat -
It is quite impossible to adopt the suggestion that has sometimes been made to take up whole sections of the one gauge and replace it with the other, for it is quite clear that there must be no interruption to traffic. That proposal would involve the introduction of new points, of all the same objections to the break of gauge as previously existed. It has been supposed that the third rail method was not applicable where the gauges concerned differ so little in width as the Victorian and New South Wales gauges, namely, 65 inches. This view, however, is an erroneous one, as the whole matter has been worked out, and the difficulty has been solved by Mr. Brennan in his design for combined switches. A model of these switches was made’ some years ago at the railway interlocking shops in Sydney, and is now to be seen in Melbourne. But while a model may indicate the practicability of a method, it is by no means so convincing as the application of the same idea to actual practice. It is recommended, therefore, that steps should be taken to manufacture one or more sets of these switches, so that they can be tried near the junction of the two gauges between Albury and Wodonga.
The Minister for Railways for Victoria and the Acting Minister for Railways in New South Wales have, I understand, conferred on the matter, and come to an agreement that the invention should be tried, and the expense divided between the two States. I strongly urge that these switches be manufactured and laid down with the least possible delay, so that tests may be made, and the result submitted to the Premiers’ Conference,
To sum up, I shall support the second reading of the Bill. I am, in favour of the adoption of the 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge, and also of raising a proportion of the cost of the undertaking by securing a considerable grant of land upon either side of the proposed route. That is not unreasonable. It is alleged that that land is not very valuable. That is one reason why the States concerned should not object to give it to the Commonwealth.
– If it is not valuable, what is the use of it?
– We shall put a value upon it.
– And Senator Lynch is a great believer in the community securing the benefit of community-created values.
– Exactly. I thank honorable senators for the patience, with which they have listened to my remarks.
. - The construction by the Commonwealth of a line of railway between two States marks a new departure in the history b£ Federation. The proposal which is embodied in this Bill is one in which the people of Australia are vitally interested.. The project has been on the, tapis for at least nine or ten years. I have in my possession reports relating to it, which are dated 1901. Upon each occasion that this question has been before the Senate I have protested against the proposed line being constructed at the expense of the Commonwealth. Before I conclude my remarks I hope to show the expenditure which the States have incurred in railway construction. Under this Bill we are asked to build a line between South Australia and Western Australia at the expense of the Commonwealth, although the work, when completed, will in no way benefit the people of the other States. We are asking them to spend their money to build a railway chiefly for the advantage of two other States. It is a most remarkable circumstance that no plans and specifications ‘have been furnished to us. I have never known a railway to be proposed to any Parliament in such a manner before. We have not even an estimate from the Commonwealth engineer. We have nothing to go upon, except a bare Bill which the Government ask us to pass. It is virtually like asking the Commonwealth Parliament for a blank cheque. Surely plans should have been laid before us showing the number! of bridges, cuttings, tunnels, culverts, and so forth, that will be required. ‘But we have none of these particulars. In fact, we are to be compelled to vote in the dark.
– Even the route is not determined.
– Two routes are marked, one via Tarcoola, and one nearer the coast.
– Has not the honorable senator known of deviations of routes being allowed for in connexion with other railways ?
– The least the Government should have done was to lay before us a plan definitely marking the route. Surely it is premature to ask Parliament to vote on this line before the route is fixed.
– We have fixed the route..
– Which route has been chosen?
– It is on the map.
– Two routes are on the map.
– No, one.
– We have no guarantee as to which of these routes will be adopted.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that he should get his eyesight improved.
-I consider that my eyesight is just as good as the Minister’s, and I would advise him to be a little more courteous in his interjections.
– Why did the honorable senator give a direct contradiction to an obvious fact like that?
– I suppose some one knows a little besides the Minister of Defence. Since he has become a military man he has grown rather dictatorial, but I would advise him not to try that game with me. He is not a general or the colonel of a regiment yet. I quite agree that we ought to meet this proposal in a reasonable spirit ; but is it a fair thing to the people whom I represent that they should be asked to pay for a railway for the benefit of other States?
– Have the people of the honorable senator’s State objected?
– Yes; they think that the people of Western Australia and South Australia should do what the people of other States have done for themselves and paid for. Before I sit down I shall show the money that has been spent on railways by Queensland within her own territories, and in making connexions in two places with New South Wales. We do not come cap in hand to the Commonwealth Parliament when we are going to build a line to the Northern Territory border. We are prepared to do what is right and reasonable within our own territory, and that is what we ask the people of South Australia and Western Australia to do. Surely that is a reasonable proposition. Before I go any further I should like to know from the Minister what the cost of this railway is to be. Can he give any estimate?
– Between£4,000 and £5,000 a mile.
– I have seen estimates by engineers. The first one that I saw was in 1901. There was a Conference of chief engineers of States, comprising Mr. Deane, now engineer for the Commonwealth, then engineer for New South Wales; Mr. Fagan, representing Queensland ; and the engineers for South Australia and Western Australia and Victoria. They collected various information, but, later on, after obtaining more knowledge, they increased their estimate of cost. But since they made their last estimate the cost of material and of wages has gone up. Railway navvies and other workmen are getting more money now than they were then. They are quite entitled to get more, because the cost of commodities has increased. If the Government were doing their duty they would come down with estimates based upon the new wages rates, showing what the line is likely to cost.
– We have done that. The information is before the Senate.
– I should like to see it.
– It has been circulated amongst the parliamentary papers.
– I have not seen it. Perhaps the Minister will furnish me with a copy. Another consideration is that we are going to build this line through a territorywhere water is veiry scarce. In other parts of Australia, where we have been accustomed to build railways, there is an ample supply of water. It is quite easy to shift camps from time to time. But in this territory we shall have to depend upon sub-artesian water, and, if that fails at any time, as it may do, the railway will be brought to a. standstill. Men cannot carry on without water.
– There is plenty of water nearer the coast.
– I understand, although I have not heard it officially stated, that the line is to be built via Tarcoola. All these things are going to add tothe cost of the line. It is to be built by day labour, and I hope the Government will not attempt to sweat those who have to do the work. They should pay them wages in keeping with the peculiar difficulties and isolation of the country, rather than the prevailing wages of Victoria, New South Wales, or Queensland.
– We shall certainly not pay the wages paid on Government works in Queensland. We should be ashamed to.
- Mr. C. Y. O’Connor, the Engineer-in-Chief of Western
Australian railways, reported on ist May, 1901, as follows -
In accordance with your request that I should report upon the cost of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and also upon the probable revenue and working expenses thereof; I have the honour to report as follows : -
In an undertaking of this magnitude, traversing 1,100 miles of country, which is mostly uninhabited, and uncultivated, and waterless, although there are no engineering difficulties to contend with, there is necessarily a good deal of uncertainty as to its probable cost, a large element in the matter being the difficulty of supplying water to the men and animals and machines employed on the construction works, and in carrying forward the requisite materials, including rails and fastenings and sleepers for the permanent way, and timber and ironwork and cement, &c, for the various structures required.
The long distance carriage necessarily in-
S’olved will also, of course, add to the cost of construction, the probable average cost of conveying the- materials above-mentioned from Adelaide or Fremantle to the places where they will be required being from 40s. to 60s. per ton.
I take it that that gentleman is a competent engineer, and he says the task is one of great magnitude, and that the line will go through waterless, uninhabited, and uncultivated country. Men .will not go out there at the normal wages of any of the States to do work of this kind. It would not be feasible to ask them, and if the Government asked them I do not think it would get them. Wages may be safely put down at 10 per cent, more than when that report was made ten years ago.
– Does not the last estimate given by the Minister of Defence provide for the increase In wages?
– I take it that that was an estimate prepared to put before the Senate. Even if the work costs £1,000,000 more, we cannot go back on it, but must pay the amount. I hav]e known jobs much smaller than this to cost double the estimate. We have no survey, so .what is the use of the Minister telling us that an estimate of the cost has been made, when they have no plans or specifications? Any man in the street could say that the work will cost so many millions ; but what guarantee have we that it will not cost more? The only definite offer we have to go on is that of Norton Griffiths, who says that he is prepared to do the work for a specified sum. If that offer were accepted, we should know what we were doing. When a railway contractor takes a job at a price, he has to carry it through, whether it costs more _ or less. I take no exception to the work being done by the Government by day labour,, except that, without plans and specifications, the best engineer in the world cannot give us a reliable estimate of the ultimate cost.
– He can only make a guess.
– -That bears out my argument. We are asked to pass a Railway Bill on guesswork. This is a new departure in building railways, without plans or estimates, and with nothing but a guess at the cost. Not long ago a contract was let by the Government for the building of a wireless telegraphy station at Pennant Hills. To show .the value of contracts or of estimates where the Government are concerned, that work was not done for the amount which it was supposed to cost. The Government had to alter it, and pay a lot more for it. The same thing will apply to this railway if the Senate is foolish enough to pass the Bill in the present circumstances.
– The Government had to pay only 75 to too per cent, more for the wireless telegraphy station.
– That makes the matter even worse.
– Is not that an argument against contract work rather than against work clone under Government supervision ?
– No. I believe that, in that case, the Government let the contract without ‘proper plans and specifications, and without drawing up a proper agreement. To quote again from Mr. O’Connor’s report -
Having taken all these elements into con- . sideration, however, with the assistance of Mr. Pendleton’s report on the South Australian portion of the line, and having gone very carefully into the matter from many points of view, I am of opinion that the railway, including rollingstock, can be attained for an average of about ^4,000 per mile, making in all ^’4,400,000.
When I asked Senator Lynch what was likely to be the_ cost of the railway, he estimated it at £6,000 a mile.
– He said £5,°°°j but I think he was joking.
– If so, it was an uncalledfor joke, because I was serious, as we all ought to be in considering a proposition of this magnitude. Mr. O’Connor then gave an estimate for a railway on a 4-ft. 8j-.in. gauge, with 60-lb. rails. Eighty or 90-lb. rails are the very least that we should attempt to put down.
In the early days, some of the State Governments built lines with 60-lb. rails, and might as well have thrown the money into the sea.
– South Australia is putting 75-lb. rails in its 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines.
– The lightest rails used for that gauge in Queensland are 80 lbs. j yet here is an estimate with rails 20 lbs. to the yard lighter than they should be, the total estimated cost, even then, being £4,400,000. This engineer obtained his information regarding the land on the South Australian portion of the route at second-hand from Mr. Pendleton. However, I shall deal with the details of his estimate when the Bill next comes before us, if I may be permitted to resume my speech then.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following paper: -
Gauge of Australian Railways - Memorandum by Mr. J. A. Smith, President Victorian Institute of Engineers; and comments thereon by Mr. II. Deane, Consulting Railway Engineer.
Ordered to be printed.
Senate adjourned at 3.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 November 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111124_senate_4_62/>.