4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator PEARCE laid on the table the following papers: -
Public Service Act 1902 - Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. Richard Wilmore Chenoweth to the position of Clerk, 4th Class, Clerical Division, Department of the Treasury, Land Tax Branch, Victoria.
Defence Act 1903-1910 - Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth - Amendment of Regulation 6. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 196.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the Government will consider the desirableness of providing for the payment of military pensions, or of instituting some provision in connexion with the Military Forces analogous to that which obtains in respect of the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth? I wish, also, to ask whether he is aware that the absence of this provision militates against the introduction into our Military Forces of young men who would be a very desirable acquisition to that body?
– Some time ago the Government were furnished with a report upon the whole question of establishing a superannuation scheme for Commonwealth public servants. Reports have also been obtained upon the desirableness of establishing a superannuation scheme for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.
– Does it cover deferred pay?
– Yes that is a kindred question. These matters have not yet been decided by the Government. They are still under consideration, and the payment of military pensions will receive attention in conjunction with them. In reply to the second portion of Senator Keating’s question, I do not think it is a fact that the absence of military pensions has militated against the’ supply of military officers, as we have always had. a large number of applicants for every position that has become vacant.
– Is it not a fact that some difficulty has been experienced by the Department in filling positions in the Military College, and, in view of the fact that the session will shortly terminate, will the Minister afford the Senate an opportunity to express its opinion upon the wisdom or otherwise of providing pensions for the Military Forces, so that they may enjoy similar rights to those which are enjoyed by the Commonwealth Naval Forces?
– The paucity of applicants for positions in the Military College was not due to the absence of military pensions, but to the fact that it was not sufficiently well known that applications were being received. This is clearly proved by the circumstance that, since publicity was given to the matter in the press, and since the date for the closing of applications was extended, a large number of applications has been received.
– Arising out of the answer of the Minister, I wish to ask whether, under any superannuation scheme which may be submitted to Parliament, the contributions of members of the Commonwealth Public Service, to whom it is intended that it shall apply, will be sufficient to defray the whole cost of such scheme, or whether the Commonwealth will be called upon to contribute a part of it?
– Speaking from memory, I think there were three distinct schemes submitted by Mr. Knibbs, the Government Statistician, to whom the matter had been referred by a previous Government. One of these schemes was a contributory one, the second was selfsupporting, and the third was a scheme the cost of which was to be covered by deductions from the salaries of public servants.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are - 1 and 2. The Postmaster-General has been advised of such a resolution having been passed.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the cabled statement that the British Government contemplates denouncing the Brussels Convention of 1902, the Government will make representations, pointing out that such a course may seriously affect the prosperity of the Australian sugar industry?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
In view of the encouragement extended by the Commonwealth Government for the local production of sugar, the Government do not see how they may with propriety urge the British Government to take any steps to the discouragement of aids to industry in other countries.
Debate resumed from 28th November (vide page 3239) on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– In discussing this Bill I find myself in rather a peculiar position in that, so far as ils main proposition is concernedthe desirableness of constructing a line to connect Western Australia with the eastern States - I approve of it. But beyond the affirmation which it contains that such a line should be constructed,there is scarcely a clause in the measure with which I am in agreement. In approaching this question, I think I shall be able to show that there is very just ground for the criticism which I shall offer. We may take it for granted that the line has been advocated both upon national and local grounds. But we are also compelled to the conclusion that wherever national interests have clashed with local interests, the former have been ruthlessly sacrificed.
However much one may assent to the proposition that a public work should be carried out, it is quite another thing to ask us to carry it out at all costs, and in such a way as will involve the sacrifice of big national interests. I wish to direct attention in the first place to the fact that if we assent to this Bill we shall not only sanction the construction of the proposed railway, but we shall also sanction an entirely new method of dealing with propositions of this character. We are asked to depart from all the precautions which every Parliament in Australia has hitherto deemed it advisable to adopt in connexion with its public works. If I were to refer this matter to a stranger who was unfamiliar with what has led up to the present position, I venture to say that he would express surprise that we should be asked to authorize the expenditure of a sum of not less than £4,000,000 - it will probably be much more - upon such scanty information. I ask honorable senators to contrast the procedure which we are asked to sanction”, with that which is adopted in other Parliaments. Those Parliaments have adopted a certain procedure as the result of experience. They long ago discovered that the very haphazard method which we are invited to revive had led to no end of trouble, and to a great deal of wasteful expenditure.
– And to a great deal of abuse.
– Yes. It had created circumstances which not infrequently had justified the use of stronger terms. As the result of that experience, the States have taken steps to insure that before Parliament can be asked to sanction a public undertaking the fullest possible information must have been supplied to it. In my own State we have rather an elaborate system of referring any projected public work to Parliament, with a view to securing its consent to an inquiry being conducted into the undertaking.
– A very excellent system too.
– It is. It enables the advocates of the proposal to put forward their views in the light of full publicity, and it also permits those who think there are drawbacks to the undertaking, or that a better alternative is open, to urge their views for consideration. The result is that when the matter again comes before Parliament honorable members can immediately turn to the evidence and the finding of the Committee. In Victoria, on a less ambitious scale, perhaps, but aiming at - and I think achieving - the same object, a Standing Committee has been appointed, whose duty it is to inquire into proposals regarding new railways. In New South Wales a similar body inquires into all public works, provided that the expenditure which would be involved exceeds ^20,000. But in connexion with this Bill, the sole information with which we have been supplied is contained in an engineer’s report. I shall have to make some criticisms of that report which are not entirely complimentary to it, because it is the chief document that is relied upon to obtain legislative sanction to the proposal contained in this Bill. I am entitled to affirm - outside the claim that the projected railway is needed for defence purposes - that the Minister has largely rested his case upon the report of Mr. Deane.
– No, upon the report of the five engineers-in-chief of the States.
– The Minister maytake the report of the five engineersinchief if he chooses to do so, but that report has been summarized, and the Minister has quoted largely from that summary.
– Because it is a summary.
– It summarizes the views of Mr. Deane, otherwise he would not have signed it.
– And of the other four engineers-in-chief.
– It does not say so. That the Minister gained his information from sources outside himself is obvious. But this report has been put before us as the sole document in support of the proposal which is contained in the Bill. I have been forced to the conclusion that, instead of having placed in “our hands an impartial document which presents cold facts for consideration, . its author has, consciously or unconsciously, allowed himself to become a partisan of this line. It is impossible to read some phrases without seeing that, even before he commenced to inquire into the matter, he had convinced himself that the proposed railway ought to be constructed. On the very first page of this report, which is dated 20th September, 191 t, I find this paragraph -
The idea of connecting the East and West by railway is one of many years standing, and it was considered quite a practicable proposition some time before the inauguration of the Commonwealth, so much so that it would appear that Western Australia, before consenting to join the Federal movement, stipulated that there should be an undertaking to carry the construction of this railway into effect.
I am not going to argue the matter, but we all know that it was a most debatable point as to whether any stipulation worthy of the name was made, and it was seriously debated that no undertaking was given by anybody with authority.
– That is not so.
– There was an honorable understanding.
– I do not mean for a moment that Mr. Deane should have contended that Western Australia did not believe there was an understanding. What I say is that an impartial public servant who is called upon to inquire should have referred to that matter, if he was called upon to refer to it at all, seeing that it was highly debatable, . by saying that it was urged on behalf of Western Australia .that that understanding existed. But for him to take a side in the controversy, and- affirm that the State did make a stipulation, and that that undertaking was agreed to, as is implied in that paragraph, is to at once stamp himself as a partisan in a highly controversial matter.
– He is perfectly right all the same.
– How can the honorable senator say that a public officer who should be impartial is right in taking a side in a matter which is open to serious debate ?
– lt is a matter of fact.
– If it is a matter of fact, it is easy to refer to the particular Act by . reason of which this undertaking was arrived at.
- Mr. Deakin and Mr. Kingston. ‘
– Neither Mr. Deakin nor any other individual gave such an undertaking.
– Mr. Holder.
- Mr. Holder could not bind his State, as was shown by the facts. That public men can make promises and give assurances I do not dispute, and as showing how little Senator de Largie regarded the statement of ‘even the Ministry of the day - and many of these statements were not made by men in that position - let me remind him that when a previous Administration gave an assurance to Parliament that a certain Trust Fund should not be touched until the matter was again referred to it, he supported the action of those who broke into the fund, and justified it on the ground that the promise of the previous Ministry could not bind their successors. I do not wish, however, to be drawn into an ‘examination of the facts. My point is that in so highly controversial a matter an impartial inquirer would not have taken an affirmative view on one side or the other. To continue that point, let me turn to page rg of the report, and here We detect the view of one who entered into the inquiry as an open advocate of the proposal. After enumerating the very many and pleasing evidences of the growth and development of Western Australia, Mr. Deane says -
If it was considered right when the Commonwealth was established that Western Australia should be connected by railway with the Eastern States, how much greater the claim now?
It is impossible to read that paragraph through without seeing a contention that there was a claim, and that it had been strengthened by facts which had since transpired. That may be so or not; but I dispute the idea that a man can claim to be an impartial inquirer in a matter which is so controversial when he takes up a position quite as extreme as that taken up by. the advocates of Western Australia. Let me now direct attention to the efforts being made in this report to boom the country through which the railway is to pass. 1 propose to give a few’ quotations, and ask honorable senators to compare the statements not only with the general knowledge we have of this country, but also with the very facts contained in the report itself. In a report which was presented to Parliament on” 21st May, 1909, Mr. Deane speaks of the country which he had then examined as having ‘a rich growth of saltbush and grass ; everywhere along the route vegetation is abundant. “ In a later report he states in paragraph 3 on page 8 -
The soil of the country extending from Coolgardie to Spencer’s Gulf is, for the most part, good and covered with vegetation.
Higher up on the same page he says -
Around the salt lake beds which are encountered in this district there are low sand hills’, which, .however, after wet weather become covered with vegetation.
Reading that description of the country as being covered with rich vegetation, in spite of all that is said and done Mr. Deane later on, when he is brought face to face with facts, and is no longer at liberty to deal with phrases, estimates the carrying capacity of the country at 20 acres to the sheep.
– You admit, then, that it can carry sheep.
– No. I shall give my view of the country directly. I am pointing out that a serious effort is being made in this report to minimize the difficulties of this undertaking, and to exaggerate whatever advantages it may claim to possess. On page 9 of this report we find this paragraph -
Hitherto one great objection to occupation has been the impossibility of getting stock away when feed becomes scarce and water gone. This condition will be entirely changed by the construction of the railway, as stock fattened in the winter, spring, and early summer can be taken to market, and the reduced flocks could then easily be kept in condition over the summer.
That paragraph ought to be headed “ Grazing made Easy.” I would ask Mr. Deane or anybody else to show me places in Australia where the rainfall is so regular that with the turning round of the seasons and the hands of the clock any grazier can say, “ I can always rely upon fattening my sheep in the autumn, winter, and spring, and sending them away in the summer when the dry time comes.” There is no place in Australia, not even in the most favoured districts, where the seasons are so regular as to permit that to be done.
– There are no places in Australia where the seasons are so regular as in the “very country to which you are referring.
– The honorable senator is quite right ; but it is the regularity of drought.
– You know nothing of the country.
– I think that I know as much about the country as does the honorable senator.
– I am quite sure that you do not. I have lived in a portion of the country for a considerable number of years, and you have not.
– The honorable senator ought to know that he has lived in a portion which is tapped by a railway. I find from this report that even a few miles ahead of that railway, with its alleged magnificent grazing possibilities, and side by side with the timber railway, no one has even attempted to graze on the country.
– They are .grazing all over the country, if you know anything About it.
– Then what does Mr. Deane mean by saying that the country is unoccupied, even in the part I am referring to, and is used only for the purpose of getting timber for the mines ? The honorable senator must square that account with Mr. Deane, and not with me. I have not finished with this paragraph yet.
– I saw stock there.
– If stock is there, what does Mr. Deane mean by saying that the country is unstocked ?
– He did not refer to that particular part.
– He did refer to it, and I have given the quotation.
– No; he referred to the Nullarbor Plains-.
– Mr. Deane is speaking of the whole of the country along the fine. He says that the only portion unoccupied is that from Port Augusta to Tarcoola.
– Will you refer to the part of the report where Mr. Deane alludes to the country immediately around Kalgoorlie being unstocked?
– Mr. Deane says -
Between Bulong and the western boundary of Wilgena run, which is 11 miles west of Tarcoola, the country is unoccupied. The only operations that are taking place are the collection of sandalwood for export and salmon-gum timber for the Kalgoorlie mines.
That is the only reference to anything being done with the country west of Tarcoola, and up to Kalgoorlie.
– He does not say there that the country is devoid of stock.
– Mr. Deane says that the only use to which the country is put is for the purpose of procuring sandalwood for export and salmon-gum timber for the mines.
– You sai’d that he stated that the country was devoid of stock.
– If that country is stocked, does the Minister think, for a moment, that when Mr. Deane was referring to timber-getting he would also refer to grazing?
– He does not say that the country is devoid of stock. He simply says that it is unoccupied from the point of view of human habitation.
– He says, “The only operations that are taking place.” Is not grazing an operation? However, if the Minister now comes forward and says that Mr. Deane is wrong I shall accept the correction.
– No; I say that you are wrong.
– Mr. Deane says, “ The only operations that are taking place.”
– That is what you said. You said that Mr. Deane had stated that the country was devoid of stock, whereas he said no such thing.
– That is what he does say.
– He says nothing of the sort. You are reading into the report.
– If any man can read into this statement, that the only operations which are taking place are the getting of sandalwood for export and salmon-gum timber for the mines, and he can say that that means grazing-
– You are straining “operations” to apply to stock.
– I am not going to argue the matter. My honorable friends can put what meaning they like upon the paragraph.
– What Mr. Deane says, in effect, is “ The only use to which that country is put is so-and-so.”
– If I take this statement as meaning that the country is stocked,’ all I can say is that it is another defect in the report for which I am not responsible, and which renders it of still less value than I originally thought it was.
– You ought to remember that, since the first survey, the land along the route has, to a great extent, been reserved by the Western Australian Government.
– Yes, but it is only reserved from sale, not from lease. All these big pastoral operations would be carried on on leased lands. Therefore, there is nothing in the reservation to prevent any one who wished to graze from getting a lease. I want to get back to the paragraph- again, and to say that nobody, not even a cowboy on the smallest farm in this country, would have ever permitted himself to sign it.
Hitherto one great objection to occupation has been the impossibility of getting stock away when feed becomes scarce and water gone.
I emphasize that phrase, “ and water, gone.” Yet we are led to suppose that the railway is going to alter all this. If graziers can get most of their stock away, we are led to believe that the country can carry the rest of it easily, though water is not there. But how can the country carry one sheep any more than it can carry 10,000, if there is no water? The difficulty there, which Mr. Deane refuses to recognise, is not merely the slight rainfall, but the great difficulty, owing to the character of the country, of conserving the water that does fall. Let me turn to the paragraph in the report dealing with wheat. It is impossible to consider this paragraph without coming to the conclusion that it was designed to suggest the possibility of wheatgrowing in this area of country. Mr. Deane says -
Whether anything can be done in the way of agriculture remains to be seen. It has not yet been shown how small a rainfall will suffice for the nourishment of wheat and other crops. More rainfall observations are imperative, and it is of vital importance to determine at what time of the year the rainfall occurs. It would appear that falls amounting in the aggregate to > inches while the crops are growing are sufficient to insure success. And if, as Mr. Hunt, the Commonwealth Meteorologist, tells me, there are parts of Western Australia where 90 per Cent of the year’s rainfall occurs in the months from April to October, there is considerable hope that some districts, with an extremely scanty rainfall, may prove quite suitable for agriculture.
Now, I say that that paragraph is designed to leave the impression that there is a reasonable prospect that wheat-growing can take place profitably along the route of this railway. But let us look at the facts. First of all, there is a reference to wheat-growing in districts where 7 inches of rain falls only within the wheat-growing months. Let Mr. Deane show me any district anywhere in which wheat can be grown - I do not mean experimentally now and again, but where it is established as an industry - with a rainfall as light as that.
– I can show the honorable senator a crop as high as his own head grown in a district where the rainfall is only 8 inches. There are hundreds of acres. That shows that he has much to learn yet.
– Senator Lynch has admirably instanced the danger of a little knowledge. The question of what rain falls upon a given crop is only one of several factors which determine whether wheat can be grown’ in a district or not. It is not the fact that 8 inches fell this year that has to be considered, but also howmuch fell in the previous twelve months. I defy Mr. Deane, or any one else, to show me where wheat-growing has become established in any district with an average rainfall of 7 inches. When Senator Lynchs mentions one instance where a crop was grown with a rainfall of 8 inches, let me say that the difference between 7 and 8 inches is. all the difference between success and failure.
– One inch?
– Yes, one inch.
– I think Mr. Deane said that the 7 inches fell between April and October.
– Exactly; 7 inches during the wheat-growing months. Further down in Mr. Deane’s report, however, he affirms that the rainfall for this district is 7 inches for the twelve months. Seveninches in the wheat-growing period does not mean 7 inches in the twelve months. Taking the most favorable figures given by Mr. Deane, and assuming that 90 per cent, of the rainfall occurred within the wheatgrowing months, and also assuming that that 90 per cent, itself fell in the wheatgrowing period - of which there is no evidence, because Mr. Deane himself says that further particulars are necessary as to the period when the rain does fall - let us see what 90 per cent, of 7 inches amounts to. It is only a little over 6 inches. So that you have to demonstrate that wheat can be grown in a district with a little over 6 inches of rainfall in the wheat-growing months. I say that there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that it is possible that wheat can be grown there.
– Mr. Deane knowsthe nature of the country.
– There is something in this report about the nature and circumstances of the country which confirms the opinion that wheat-growing is still more hopeless than I have shown it to be. I refer to the facts concerning temperature and evaporation. Both of those are factors which come into the consideration of every practical farmer. These facts, however, have been brushed on one side ; and if honorable senators opposite appear to approve of the paragraph, which was written clearly for the purpose of suggesting that wheat can be grown there, I remind them that it is clearly proved by an examination of the facts in the report itself that there is not the slightest justification for the assertions which I have quoted. Let me proceed to ask this further question : If this country is all that it is painted to be, why did settlement stop so soon after Tarcoola was passed? Why, if this country is capable of growing wheat over enormous stretches of unoccupied territory, has not wheat-growing been conducted there? Why has occupation stopped as though it were barred by a Chinese wall? The graziers of this country have never lacked enterprise. They have even been accused of being out to grab lands, and to lock them up for grazing purposes. How is it,, then, that none of the land in the country with which we are dealing has been -taken up by these enterprising people: They search all portions of Queensland for vacant land. They have occupied nearly every portion of New South Wales. South Australian stock-owners have -pushed right out into the Northern Territory. How is it that no one has pushed beyond Tarcoola? The solution of the problem is to be found in the answer to that question. But there has been no attempt to deal with that. Nevertheless, an attempt has been made to show that the :building of this railway would promote settlement. We shall get an idea of what the unoccupied country is like if we consider the nature of the country that has actually been occupied. If honorable senator.? will pay attention to the paragraph which I shall next read, they will realize what the country lying beyond Tarcoola must be. On page 8 of Mr. Deane’s report is this description -
Around the salt lake beds which are encountered in this district there are low sand hills, which, however, after wet weather become covered with vegetation.
– Scores of people have been ruined there.
– Still, the land was occupied. The pastoral enterprise of Australia was sufficient to conduce to its occupation. But the most enterprising of pastoralists did not care to go beyond it. My contention is that their reason was that there were tremendous difficulties which caused them to stop at Tarcoola.
Tablelands rising 200 or 300 feet above the rest of the country are also met with. On the top and sides of these nutritious herbage, chiefly salt bush, grow. -Quite a pretty picture ! Then follows this sentence -
The tablelands consist of a sandstone formation more or less denuded, the surface of the land being covered with very hard sandstone fragments.
I appeal to any man who has any knowledge of our more arid districts, who has been brought face to face with country of that kind, which is to be found in small or large quantities in every State on the mainland, whether that is not a true description of the least attractive pastoral country in occupation in Australia to-day? Yet it has been occupied. If the country of which I have read a description, and which is bad enough in all conscience, was occupied, I am justified in concluding that when enterprise was brought to a standstill there, the reason was that even the most enterprising of graziers did not care to go beyond Tarcoola, because the country beyond is too inferior for serious consideration. I should like now to direct the attention of honorable senators to a. report from officers of the Lands Department of South Australia, furnished to Mr. Glynn, a member of the House of Representatives, and used by him for the purposes of debate in that Chamber. I am not at liberty to quote it here ; but I invite the attention of honorable senators to the particulars contained in it as furnished by a body of officers who, of all those in Australia, have had the best opportunities of judging what this country is like. They will find there a remarkable description, both of the difficulties of settlement and of the quantity and quality of the water which we may hope to find.
No more serious criticism of the character of the country can be desired than that furnished by a proposal in this Bill with reference to the supply of water for purposes of the line itself. It is actually proposed - and I suppose Mr. Deane thought it necessary, or he would not have submitted the proposal - to pipe and to pump the water hundreds of miles along the route. Why? Because the water is not to be conserved where it is wanted, owing to the impossibility of doing so.
– Does the honorable senator say that it is proposed to pump the water all the way?
– For the first 200 or 300 miles, they will not need to pump One does not need to be an engineer to know that when the grade of the land is favorable there is no need to pump. But they have to pipe this water some hundreds of miles, and then have to lift it to give it a sufficient start where the grade is contrary. We are asked to run a railway over a line of country where the difficulty of conserving it is so great that it is necessary to pipe it hundreds of miles merely for locomotive purposes. Surely, in face of that fact, we are brought face to face with the enormous difficulty of settling this country.
– Mr. Deane does not say that the water will be used merely for locomotive purposes. It may be used for all the purposes of settlement.
– Surely Senator de Largie does not contend for a moment that this water is to be pumped hundreds of miles for the purposes of stock.
– If needs be.
– Very costly.
– I have worked out a few .figures which will show what the cost per head of sheep will be. If this is the only means of getting . water into the country - and it is evidently the cheapest means, or Mr. Deane would not have recommended it; I have sufficient belief in his engineering capacity to believe that he would recommend the cheapest method - let us see how it will work out. Mr. Deane’s estimate for the 1,063 miles is £450,000. I presume that for a portion of the way the cost of conveying the water would be inexpensive. I am justified in saying that if I estimate the average cos! per mile I am understating the cost of piping, because there will be many miles where no pipes will be required. Now, 7 miles is the longest distance which you can profitably expect sheep to be driven for water. Taking 7 miles on each side of the line, we have a strip of country 14 miles wide for every running mile of railway. That would give 14,800 square miles, or 10,000,000 acres of country to be watered by a single line of pipes. On Mr. Deane’s estimate of the carrying capacity of this country, namely, a sheep to 20 acres, the area would carry 484,000 sheep ; and as this water supply is estimated to cost ,£456,000, it means that it would cost about £1 per head for the water supply of the sheep.
– How much is reckoned for the carriage of fodder?
– I have not thought it necessary to deal with that, because I came to the conclusion that there would be no necessity to find fodder for dead sheep, and we know that sheep cannot live without water. It is shown that it will cost about ,£500,000 to provide a water-supply sufficient for locomotive purposes, but not nearly sufficient for stock purposes, and the . amount would require to be largely augmented before a supply could be provided sufficient for stocking the country. Mr. Deane may say that he is dealing only - with the railway aspect of the question,, and my answer to that is, that if there, were any more economic scheme for providing a water supply, Mr. Deane would haveproposed it. As showing the unreliability of Mr. Deane’s estimates and report generally, let me direct attention to his estimate of revenue, based on the carrying, capacity of the country.
– Does the honorable senator -say that Mr. Deane’s estimate of the cost of the water supply is not reliable?
– By no means.
– The honorable senatorhas just referred to the unreliability of the report he has just been reading from.
– I am not going topermit my honorable friend, with all his slimness, to ‘turn me from the point I wish, to make. I am not questioning anything which Mr. Deane says as an engineer upon, an engineering proposition.
– Is not the making of provision for a water supply a portion of a railway engineer’s work?
– It is. and I am accepting Mr. Deane’s statement that it will cost about ,£500,000 to provide a water supply for this railway. I am further accepting Mr. Deane’s proposal as to the best way of providing the water supply ; but I am entitled to ask how this willi work out commercially if applied to stock purposes.
– What is the size of the pipes recommended?
– I do not know. That is not given. But I am justified in concluding that in his estimate of the cost Mr. Deane has provided for a pipe amply; sufficient for the purpose he had in view. I direct . attention now to this marvellousestimate, to be found on page 19 of Mr. Deane’s report -
There is a source of revenue which in theprevious estimate was not fully taken account of. This is the revenue due to the carriage pf stock and wool. The length of the line is 1,063. miles. If a length of 900 miles were taken asexcluding all bad and indifferent country within the width of 100 miles, that is to say, 50 mileson each side of the line, an area of 90,000 squaremiles is the result.
– Mr. Deane expressly excludes from his estimate the country te* which the honorable senator has been alluding.
– He excludes the bad and indifferent country.
– Yes, he excludes that from his estimate of the revenue to be derived from the revenue-earning country.
– He includes 900 -miles of the length of the line, and excludes 163 miles, but I defy the Minister to say that Mr. Deane’s estimate in this case can be substantiated.
– Does the honorable senator say that it will be necessary to carry water by pipes for 900 miles of the length of the line?
– No, I have said that it would be necessary to carry water by pipes for some hundreds of miles.
– Through the country to which the honorable senator has been referring, and which Mr. Deane expressly excludes from his estimate of revenue.
– If the Minister means to suggest that Mr. Deane reports that it will be necessary to carry water by pipes for only 163 miles of the length of the line, he cannot have read the report. Mr. Deane goes on to say -
This is equal to 57,600,000 acres, and if the liberal estimate of 20 acres to a sheep is allowed, this strip of country would be capable of carrying 3,000,000 sheep, which, with an increase of 50 per cent., would give 1,500,000 annually to be sent to the ports as fat stock, or in the way of carcasses.
– He was not engineering when he wrote that.
– No, and I am not dealing with him now upon an engineering matter, but upon a matter with which I am familiar. Every person who is familiar with the statistics of Australia must know that an estimate of an annual increase of 50 per cent, on 3,000,000 sheep is too ludicrous for consideration.
– This country is so good that each ewe would have two lambs.
– Mr. Deane evidently does not know that no grazier occupying this class of country would think of carrying all his sheep in the form of ewes. I am not going into the details of the graz- “ing business, but I say that statistics show clearly that an annual increase of 50. per cent, is an outrageous estimate.
– What should the percentage be?
– I am now going to state what it should be, and Senator Lynch will probably not like it any better than he likes what I am saying now. In no part of Australia has there been at any time an annual increase of 50 per cent.
– Yes, there has been an increase of up to 80 per- cent.
– Here we have the same class of wisdom as that upon which Mr. Deane worked. We have heard of flocks of ewes that have given an increase of 80 and even 100 per cent., but the percentage of increase must be reckoned on the total flock, and, according to our statistics, the percentage of 80 per cent, is brought down until the actual figures for Australia show that the average percentage is between 18 and 19 per cent, on the total flock. I consulted Mr. Knibbs to discover the annual increase in sheep over the whole of Australia, but he tells me that it is not possible to give the average increase over the whole of Australia, because one State does not prepare its statistics in this form. I have, however, taken what I believe to be a fair guide, and that is the figures for New South Wales, a State in which there is much good country, and some of a less favorable character for sheep. The statistics of New South Wales for the period of five years - 1905 to 1909 - admittedly good years from a grazing point of view, showed that the average annual increase of sheep was 25 per cent, from lambing. From this had to be taken 6 per cent, loss from natural deaths and sheep not accounted for, and this gives the average annual increase for the State during that period as 19 per cent.
– That is in country with a good rainfall.
– That is the average for a State, the greater part of which is more suited for the grazing of sheep than is the country through which this line will pass. Mr. Deane allows for an increase of 50 per cent., which was never heard of anywhere. If we adopt the New South Wales average of 19 per cent., the annual increase from the estimated 3,000,000 sheep would be 450,000, -instead of 1,500,000, or a little under one-third of Mr. Deane’s estimate. There is another way of looking at this estimate of the number of sheep that would yearly be carried by rail from this country to the -port.
– In this country they could not travel in any other way.
– Senator Givens, much as he admires the proposal to construct this line, will not believe- that 3,000,000 will give an annual output of 1,500,000 every year. Whilst Mr. Deane estimates that 50 per cent, of the stock which he assumes would be grazed on this country would be carried over the railway every year, I find that, in New South Wales, during the year 1909, only 6,700,000 out of a total of 46,000,000 sheep, that is 15 per cent., used the railways in one form or another. This must be set against Mr. Deane’s estimate of 50 per cent, for this railway. The facts only require to be stated to show that Mr. Deane has not given to this matter, I do not say the attention he ought to have given it in view of the position in which he is placed, but the attention which a casual newspaper reader would expect him to give.
– What point is the honorable senator driving at now ?
– The fact that Mr. Deane, in his report, builds up an estimate of revenue on the assumption that 1,500,000 sheep may be expected as the surplus stock to be taken off the country served bv this railway every year.
– The honorable senator knows that we are not putting this Bill forward on that estimate, and that, so far as estimates of revenue are concerned, we depend upon the estimate prepared by Mr. Moncrieff.
– I shall come to that directly, and though Senator Pearce does not wish me to say it, I am entitled to say that, when we find a paragraph in a report so grossly exaggerated as that to which I am referring, the report is not worth the paper on which it is written. When, apart from engineering matters, Mr. Deane puts forward statements of this kind, I am entitled to say that no credence ought to attach to any statements he makes outside engineering matters.
– The Government are not asking the honorable senator to attach any credence to statements made by Mr. Deane outside engineering matters.
– Let me get back -to the original statement, and perhaps it will not please the Minister any better if I say that no one but an advocate for this railway would ever venture to put such stuff into a report.
– Would the honorable senator have the Government edit the reports ?
– I am not dealing with the Minister in respect of the report, except in so far as he indorses it. I direct attention to the fact that a public officer, who ought to have been impartial, has put into his report stuff which would disgrace the mining prospectus of a wild cat show.
– We do not ask the honorable senator to accept Mr. Deane’sestimate of the revenue to be derived from the railway.
– I do not wish to associate the Minister of Defence with thisreport, because I believe that, in his heart, the honorable senator is just as much; ashamed of it as I am. He has reminded me that in this matter the Government arerelying upon estimates presented by South Australian officials. I should like to direct attention to this very curious feature. The Government asked Parliament to pass this Bill without any estimates at alL It was passed in another place, presented to the Senate, and the second reading moved without any estimate, and it was only late last night that we were supplied with an estimate of the probable receipts and expenditure. T think I am entitled to comment upon that. When I turn to the report of the South Australian officials, on which the Minister rests his case, I invite honorable senators to consider how widely it differs from the estimate which Mr. Deane has put forward. Under the heading of “ Live Stock,” these officials reckon upon 1,200 vans, at £10 per van for 960 miles. Let me just say that 1,200 vans, at £10 per van, would amount to ,£1 2,000-. Yet in this report to which my attention is directed, this is cast up and added in a column as ,£21,600. Perhaps the Minister will be able to explain how such inaccurate figures occur in a report presented to this Parliament.
– That is a transposition.
– No. It cannot be a transposition because the figures are added up to make a total of ,£21,600. This is a discrepancy’ which, to say the least of it, is evidence of very considerable carelessness. But I should like to direct attention to the fact that the South Australian estimate allows nothing whatever for stock raised along the line of route. « No more eloquent condemnation of the suggestion that the country which the line will traverse is capable of being stocked, can be supplied than that. The estimate assumes that these 1,200 vans will travel a distance of 960 miles - that is to say, from. Tarcoola, right into Kalgoorlie - so that: no intermediate stock traffic is anticipated’-
Passing from this phase of the report, I come now to the strong reason which justifies the construction of the railway- I refer to defence considerations. As evidencing the haste with which the Government wish to push forward thisline, on the ground that it is essential for defence purposes, I would point out that nothing has been presented to the Senate which would suggest that the Defence authorities have been consulted in regard to it. We know that high military officers have urged the construction of a line to connect the east with the west, and the north with the south. But when the route of the proposed railway was about to be adopted, one would have thought that the Minister would at least have referred the matter to military experts.
– If I had done that, and they had presented a report in favour of the route, the honorable senator would have said that that report had been supplied to the order of the Minister.
– If it were anything like Mr. Deane’ s report, I certainly should say that. Somebody has evidently pointed out to Mr. Deane the possibility of the proposed line being weak from a defence point of view, by reason of its near approach to the sea at Eucla; and, on page 7 of his report, he deals with this consideration. He says -
It has more than once been suggested that the Hine opposite Eucla at the head of the Bight is too near the coast. The actual distance is about 60 miles through country which, although carrying sufficient vegetation for stock, is of an inhospitable character, because there is no water to be obtained until the line is reached. It would probably take a boat’s crew three days from the coast to reach the line. It is very doubtful whether there is the slightest danger of any attack being made in the neighbourhood of Eucla.
Evidently, Mr. Deane is a military, as well as an agricultural expert. He continues -
The character of the coast does not permit of ships lying close in in all weathers, consequently, if heavy weather set in, they would have to head right out into the Bight for safety, so that a boat’s crew which had landed might be cut off completely without doing damage of any consequence. It seems, therefore, extremely unlikely that an enemy would make any attempt to land.
Has Mr. Deane ever read anything of the heroic deeds which have been accomplished by boats’ crews of the British Navy? I do not believe there is a ship in any navy which would not find hundreds of volunteers ready to undertake the enterprise which he disposes of so satisfactorily in this fashion.
– But the question is, Would they succeed?
– Would Captain Scott, who took his guns up to Ladysmith without any difficulty-
– Took them up in a railway truck all the way.
– Am I to understand that the Minister thinks it is not possible for a body of men to get over 60 milesof waterless country ? 1 have been over a stretch of 90 miles without water, and I have seen bullock teams get over it, too. Because there will be 60 miles of difficult country between the railway and the sea, to argue that no boat’s crew will be found ready to risk the enterprise of reaching it, is to invite us to shut our eyes to the deeds of the past.
– What if an enemy blew up the line?
– It would have destroyed its utility from a defence standpoint.
– Itcould be repaired in a few hours.
– It is very refreshing to receive these assurances; but I say that’ this point should have beenreferred to the military experts themselves.
– The honorable senator would not have accepted their report if it had been a favorable one.
– I do not propose to argue with the Minister when he chooses to ignore all parliamentary procedure on quite insufficient information. I come now to another matter. The Bill contains a proposal to run this transcontinental line across Spencer’s Gulf somewhere near its head. I suppose that Mr. Deane would say that there is no danger to be apprehended from doing that. I am not sufficient of an expert to say whether there is or is not ; but it seems to me that we ought to have asked our military experts whether it was advisable to construct the line round the head of Spencer’s Gulf, or across it where its utility might easily be destroyed for months. Would the running of a torpedoboat or a small craft up that gulf present such difficulties that a dozen attempts to get there would not be made, if necessary, by any ship flying an enemy’s flag?
-Colonel Cameron. - If our existingrailways are a menace to the integrity of Australia, how much more of a menace will be a railway which runs round the head of Spencer’s Gulf?
– The honorable senator has summarized the objections which I am endeavouring to voice. But the Government have been so anxious to get this line through at all costs, that, whilst defending it from a defence stand-point, they have absolutely neglected to take the opinion of any defence authority upon it.
I come now to the very loose provisions for the acquisition of land which are contained in the Bill. Sub-clause 2, of clause 3, provides -
The construction of the railway shall not be commenced until the States of Western Australia and South Australia respectively have granted or agreed to grant, to the satisfaction of the Minister, such portions of the Crown lands of the State as are, in the opinion of the Minister, necessary for the purposes of the construction, maintenance, and working of the railway.
– Suppose that one State refuses to grant us the land?
– In that case, I do not see any great difficulty. But supposing that a State - and we have no reason to assume that South Australia is particularly anxious for the construction of this line-
– I think that the honorable senator is mistaken.
– It may be. We are asked to sanction a big public undertaking, which may require some land, and to leave it to the Minister to determine what land the Commonwealth shall receive. Let us compare the attitude which is adopted by the Minister of Defence in respect of this Bill, with the attitude which he adopted in respect of the Federal Capital. When the site of the Capital was under consideration, he claimed that Parliament should have a definite understanding as to the area of land which it was to receive from New South Wales before it passed the Bill dealing with that matter. But here we are invited to allow the Minister to determine what land is required by the Commonwealth. As showing that this danger is not altogether an imaginary one, I would point out that in his report Mr. Deane recognises that there should be reserved to the Commonwealth half-a-mile of territory on either side of the railway, that special areas should be provided for stations and yards, and that in the sandhill country an area of 10 square miles should be permanently reserved from occupation. If that is the opinion of an engineer, provision to give effect to it should have been made in the Bill. I am aware that, anticipating our wishes, the Western Australian Parliament some seven years ago agreed to cede to the Commonwealth land three chains wide along the route of the proposed line, and such waste lands of the Crown asmight be deemed to be necessary for sidings and for insuring a water supply, &c. But what attitude will South Australia adopt if confronted with this proposal? of Mr. Deane’s? These sandhills runs for 100 miles, so that if South Australia grants to the Commonwealth what is considered essential, she will have to cede itno less than 1,000 miles of territory. Parliament ought not to leave so important a matter to be decided in the office of any Minister. On the contrary, it ought to be consulted as to the terms which should be arrived at with South Australia. May I remind the Senate that at the instance of Senator Givens some time ago it passed* the following resolution dealing with this very point? -
That the Bill be not further considered until evidence that the Parliament of South Australia;, has formally consented to the Commonwealth constructing that portion of the proposed railway which would be in South Australian territoryhas been laid on the table of the Senate.
We asked there clearly for proof that the State has assented to the construction of this line. If it was necessary for proof of that simple fact to be supplied, how much more necessary is it that we should1 know the terms and conditions which surround that sanction? I invite Senator Pearce particularly to refer to the debate on the Federal Capital as a justification- for my contention that before we sanction the expenditure of anything from £4,000,000 upwards we should have laid! before us full particulars as to what areas of land South Australia and WesternAustralia are prepared to concede. The Bill seeks to imply that unless the land’ conceded to us is sufficient for our purposes, the railway will not be constructed. But who is to be the judge of the sufficiency - the Minister or the Parliament?” The danger of allowing the Minister todeal with this matter arises from the evidence which we already have presented, that at all costs the Government intend toget this Bill carried through.
– Does the section inthe Western Australian Act refer to three chains of land on either side of the line?’
– It refers to a strip three chains wide along the lines of therailway.
– Does it say on eitherside?
– No; it says “including a strip of land three chains wide along the lines, of such railway.” I want to’ deal now with a matter where the national interests come clearly into conflict with, local interests. This railway is supposed to have two values : First,, that of defence, which is national ; and, second, that it will be of some use for developmental purposes. The cost of the line for the national purpose is rightly to be borne by the whole community. But when we come to loot at the developmental purpose, we see a divided interest. Here is a strange position : that whilst the whole of the people of Australia are asked to share the total cost of the undertaking, the beneficial results which may arise from the incremental value due to the development are to go, not to the whole of the people of Australia, but to a section of them. The Commonwealth will be in the same position in regard to the States as the States have been in hitherto in regard to individual land-holders, where public expenditure has enhanced the value of private property. The contention with my honorable friends opposite has always been that the incremental value properly belongs to the people who created itThat argument is irresistibly true in connexion with this line. The people who are going to create that value are the whole of the people of Australia, and not a portion of them. Why should not the whole of the people at least share in the value which will be created by their expenditure ?
– But what if the land is incapable of an increased value?
– If there is no incremental value, the people of Australia will have no right to ask for a share of it; but the advocates of the Bill say that the land to be traversed is of such a character that the railway will exercise a beneficial influence in developing it.
– Do you know that Victoria has lately abandoned that practice of exacting what is considered to be the enhanced value?
– What is much more important to me is to. know if Senator Lynch has abandoned his adherence to the principle that the community which creates the value should have it.
– I thought at one time that it was a beautiful idea; but on the Victorian experience it is a very hard one to follow out.
– Is the honorable senator going to take Victorian, experience as his guide in anything?
– Have yow abandoned your own ideas ?
– No, I ami- sticking to my idea that where the whole- community incurs an expense it ought’ to be entitled to at least a share- in that communitycreated value, if any. I- am- entirely opposed to the propositions- that have been put forward for grants- ©f land ‘ to be made to the Commonwealth!. The project seems to me to be extremely’ objectionable, if not impracticable. T do not wish to see the Commonwealth’ eontrolling big areas within a- State - a> State within a State, as it were. I do- not desire to see the Commonwealth! charged with the administration of a landed: estate within a State.. So far as the control and settlement of land is concerned, the Commonwealth has its hand’s full’ iff regard’ to the Northern Territory. But whilst I see many difficulties in the way of handing over specific blocks of land to the’ Commonwealth, quite a different reason arises when we talk about transferring to- the Commonwealth the incremental value which will result from the building of the railway. That view was shared” not long ago by many advocates of this proposal. The Minister of Home Affairs, ire whose Department it originated, clearly.’ announced in the other House his opinion that the Commonwealth ought to- demand and receive the incremental’ value t© be created by the expenditure of this money. He is silent on that point now, but his remarks are embodied in Hansard, and can be referred to. There are other little chickens which occasionally come home to roost. I have here a rather awkward” and ungainly chicken which I am going to help to steer into the hen-roost of Senator Lynch. To show how far he was prepared to go two years ago in advocacy of the principle I am enunciating, on the nth August, 1909, he asked me, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council, the following questions: -
In view of the possible construction by. . the Commonwealth of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta and the Oodnadatta to Pine Greek railways, will the Government request the South Australian authorities to reserve from alienation the country for a distance of 25, miles om each side of any suggested routes of those railways?
Failing compliance with this request by South Australia, will the Government- intimate to the South Australian Government that its will deduct from that State’s share of the Customs and Excise revenue the enhanced value of any lands required by the Commonwealth due to the construction of those railways?
Here is a proposition that we should break the Constitution, ignore the Braddon section, and forcibly withhold from these States their share of the Customs revenue in order to recoup the Commonwealth for the incremental value which might arise from our public expenditure.
– The Braddon section has since expired.
– That was for the purpose of getting whatever land was required for the use of the Commonwealth.
– It does not matter whether the Braddon section has expired or not. At that time Senator Lynch stood out as an advocate of securing to the Commonwealth some share of that’ incremental value which would be created by the construction of this and other railways. I have referred to the matter because I am hopeful that he will support an amendment which I propose to submit - one much less drastic, but I think much more constitutional, than the proposal he made. In dealing with this aspect of the case, I should like to point out the altered position which has arisen from the lapse of time. Previously Western Australia stood in the position of a State which had offered to do certain things if we constructed this railway. She had not only consented to give up a very meagre bit of country for the purpose of the railway, but offered to make some contribution towards the loss incurred in operating the line. In addition to that, she offered, at her own cost, to convert from her present narrow : gauge, to whatever gauge might be adopted, the railway running from Perth to . Kalgoorlie. These promises have lapsed, because the Act in which they were embodied has expired. In what position does Western Australia stand now with regard to this proposal ? Are all these promises to be ignored? Are we, the custodians of the Commonwealth, to go into this business now without asking the State to renew these offers ? If we do, let me draw attention to another curious factor which will arise. Western Australia offered to alter the gauge of her railway to Kalgoorlie when we commenced to construct this railway. By reason of our failure to proceed within the time limit of five years she is relieved of that obligation. But is she going to renew it? This proposal has always been advocated by its supporters on the ground that Western Australia would do these things.
– I can remove your doubts on that point by stating that to-day we received a telegram from the Government of Western Australia telling us that they will revive the Act in its entirety.
– That is very satisfactory news to me, but it would have been much more satisfactory if it had been obtained before. The fact that the Government only obtained this information when criticism on this point was beginning to multiply is a justification of my contention.
– We asked for the information, and waited for a reply.
– This is not the only Government which, in its desire to push forward this line, has shown a disregard of the national interests involved.
– We asked for this information some time ago.
– It is quite evident to me that the Minister was prepared to go on with the measure if he did not get a favorable reply. I am glad to hear that the Government have received a favorable reply. I could see a complication arising if Western Australia had demurred to that condition, and if she had I should have said that she was justified. The South Australian Government have stated that they are not prepared to do what they will be asked to do under this Bill unless the Commonwealth gives an assurance that it will shoulder the cost of altering the gauge of her railway to whatever gauge is adopted for this line.
– Quite right.
– If it is right for South Australia to make that stipulation, Western Australia might reasonably turn round and say, “ If you are going to pay the cost of altering the gauge in South Australia, you should also pay the cost of altering our gauge.”
– It is just as reasonable in one case as in the other.
– Yes, if Western Australia had declined to renew her offer I should have said that she was quite justified in her refusal, and it comes to me as a particularly pleasant surprise that, in spite of the opening which was there left she has decided to renew the offer.
– But there is a Labour Government in Western Australia.
– It is a Government which is extremely anxious to get this line put through. But I am not sure that, although there is a Labour Government in South Australia, the same anxiety exists there.
– Oh, yes.
– Mr. Verran’s statement in the press does not suggest much fiery enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, he has laid down a stipulation, and it will be interesting to know exactly what areas of land the States are prepared to concede to the Commonwealth. Associated with this question of the right of the Commonwealth to a share in the incremental value created by this expenditure is the question of how we are going to finance the railway. On that point we have had three different statements made by the head of the Government.
– South Australia is in trouble now about how the establishment of the Federal Capital is going to be financed.
– If the honorable senator wants to suggest that, in our public works policy, the principle known as log-rolling, should find an honored position I cannot agree with him. Therefore, I hope that he is not suggesting that, because he may have given a certain vote in connexion with the Federal Capital, anybody should be influenced in the vote which he gives with regard to this proposal. I decline to believe that this railway is going to be constructed for £4,000,000. It is all very well to say that that is the engineer’s estimate. But I appeal to any one who has had much parliamentary experience as to whether the almost unbroken experience has not been that the departmental estimate has always been greatly exceeded before the work was completed.
– By 50 per cent.
– In his estimate Mr. Deane has made no provision for certain matters which are almost bound to occur. But even if we take the amount at £4,000,000 it is reasonable to ask how the Government propose to raise it. In the other House, Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister, stated that as large a proportion as possible will be paid out of revenue.
– Hear, hear.
– I can quite understand South Australians saying, “ Seeing that this line is to be constructed out of revenue which will be taken by taxation more largely from the other States than from our State, and will be spent more largely in our State, let us, by these means, take the money from the other States and spend it in our State. ‘ ‘
– That is a very unfair way of putting it, but it is like the honorable senator.
– It is an absolute statement of facts. In addition to the statement which the Prime Minister has made as to paying as large a proportion as possible out of revenue-
– Is there any harm in that?
– It will all depend on how the Government raise the revenue, and whether they make the construction of this railway an excuse for imposing more class taxation.
– If we borrowed money, would it not have just the same effect ?
– It depends upon whether the taxation is justifiable, or whether Mr. Fisher is going to make the building of the railway a justification and an excuse for imposing further class taxation. Mr. Fisher also stated that the requirements of the railway can be met out of the proceeds of the Notes Fund. I am not saying that that money cannot be spent as well for this purpose as for any other. But we ought to have had a clear and definite statement on the point. There is a further statement as to the note issue to which it may be as well to direct attention. The Government have already lent a considerable sum to two of the States. Now they propose to use the amount still available for the construction of this railway. Yet, speaking at the Eight Hours banquet in Sydney, Mr. Fisher referred to the proceeds of the note issue as a great National Reserve Fund, which would be available in time of. national crisis. How is this money going to be available in a time of national crisis if it is to be spent on building this railway?
– This is the “great national crisis,” I suppose.
– It is a crisis, indeed, if we are going to authorize a railway on these terms. I shall conclude by submitting an amendment, the terms of which have been arrived at after consultation with my friends on the Opposition side. I have endeavoured, in it, to summarize and crystallize the objections which stand out pre-eminently against this Bill. I move -
That all the words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ as the Commonwealth Government is not possessed of sufficient powers from the Govern- ments of South Australia and Western Australia to enable it to proceed with the construction of the railway through the said States, and to control its management thereafter, and as this Senate is not supplied with sufficient information on fa) the proposed route; (i) the cost of construction, and .the probable revenue and expenditure and interest charge - this Bill be not proceeded with .till the Senate is further informed on these points. And, further, as the proposed railway serves directly to assist the development of the States of ‘South Australia and Western Australia, this Senate is of opinion that the Government should consult with the Governments of the two States, with a view to devising an arrangement securing to the Commonwealth a reasonable portion of any value added to. the lands along the -line ;of route and accruing from the construction of the said line.
– I rise to a point of ;order. I submit that an amendment moved at this stage must be either “ 1’nat the Bill be -read this day six months,” or must be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. T?he amendment moved by Senator Millen is .so long, and so verbose, that it is somewhat .difficult :to grasp all that it contains. - But, listening to the best of my ability, I grasped that, amongst other things, it proposes that .this Bill shall be laid aside because it does not give sufficient information. It .is -not proposed in the Bill to give information. There is nothing in it about providing information. The Bill is for the specific purpose of authorizing the construction of a railway line. All necessary matters relating to the construction of the line are provided for in the Bill. But, obviously, such a Bill never purports to give information. The necessary information is given, or withheld, in the speech in which the Bill is introduced, and in speeches which take place during ihe debate upon it. This is not a Bill to supply statistics. Another paragraph of the amendment urges that the measure should be laid aside because no estimates of revenue are furnished. This is not a Bill for supplying estimates of any kind. If it were a statistical Bill, the amendment might be perfectly relevant. But as it is a Bill to authorize the construction of a railway, all that is relevant for that purpose is provided in the Bill. The .subjects introduced into the amendment, therefore, have nothing to do with the measure. They do not relate to the construction of the railwayThey have to do with the question whether honorable senators are content to vote for the Bill on the information which has been supplied. They are relevant to the discus sion, to the line of thought which honorable senators may take in making up their minds as to whether they will vote for or against the Bill; but they are not relevant to the Bill itself. I submit that it is extremely inadvisable and altogether contrary to the practice and usage of Parliament that, under guise of an amendment, practically all the merits of the Bill should be canvassed. The honorable senator will have every opportunity in Committee of moving to omit any words from the Bill, and to substitute others. But I submit that we ought not to get into the practice of admitting into amendments statements as to the merits of a Bill, and as to the information or lack of information with which a Bill is introduced. The amendment also raises, amongst other things, the question of the action of the Government in relation to the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia. Surely that is not relevant to the Bill itself. It seems to me to be altogether outside the question. Quite a legitimate argument may be raised as to whether we should accept the Bill or not, but an amendment should be . strictly relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill. I hope, for the future guidance of the .Senate, and in order that we may maintain a practice which is convenient, fair, and just, that the amendment will not be admitted.
– I should like to direct your attention, Mr. President, to the following passage appearing on page 472 of the eleventh edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice -
It is, however,- competent to a member who desires to place on record any special reasons for not agreeing to the second reading of a Bill, to move as an amendment to the question a resolution declaratory of some principle adverse to or differing from the principles, policy, or provisions of the Bill, or expressing opinions as to any circumstances connected with its introduction or prosecution, or otherwise opposed to its progress, or seeking further information in relation to the Bill by committees, commissioners, the production of papers, or other evidence.
That clearly sets out that it is possible to embody an expression of opinion, of principle, in a declaratory amendment. It is possible to seek for information by means of an amendment.
– By Committee.
– By Committee or otherwise. The words “other evidence” have no reference to Committees. I should like, in addition, to remind you that the Senate on a previous occasion adopted a declaratory amendment of this kind. On the 26th of August, 1905, an amendment was submitted by Senator Givens, in which he declared that this particular line should not be further proceeded with until evidence had been laid upon the table of the Senate showing that the two States more immediately concerned had consented to the construction of the line by the Commonwealth. My amendment reaffirms the amendment carried then in one part. I submit in regard to the other part that the moving of such an amendment is specifically provided for in the quotation from May which I have made. I contend, therefore, that my amendment is entirely in order.
– If this amendment were, carried, it would simply mean indefinitely shelving the measure. If Senator Millen’s object be to secure any further information he can move an amendment in Committee.
– How could I obtain information on an amendment moved in Committee ?
– If the amendment were carried it would mean shelving the Bill indefinitely. That is a wrong course. The honorable senator need not take such a circuitous route to attain his object. He wants to kill this measure. The straightforward and simple method would be to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months. But instead of that he seeks to cover up his tracks by moving an amendment which, under cover of asking for information, seeks to lay the measure aside. If the honorable senator desires that the Commonwealth shall acquire land, S>r have the disposing of land when acquired, he can an. Committee move an amendment on clause 19.
– Senator Pearce has very properly pointed out that it is not the purpose of this Bill to supply the information asked for by Senator Millen.
– No; but the purpose of my amendment is to secure that information.
– May I remind the honorable senator that on a former occasion in the Senate he pointed out that there is quite another means of securing such information than by the Bill proposed for the construction of this line. When he was steering the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill through this Chamber
– I never steered that Bill through the Senate.
– The honorable senator was identified with it.
– Never. That Bill was passed before the advent of the Deakin-Cook Administration.
– Well, whether Senator Millen was identified with that measure or not, similar information was asked for in connexion with it, and the answer given was that the report of the survey would supply the information as to whether the railway was one which should be undertaken. It is not in a Bill for the construction of the railway that we should seek for such information, but in such reports as those which have already been supplied to honorable senators. I, therefore, hold that the amendment is not relevant to the measure before us.
– Senator Millen has moved an amendment which he believes to be in order, as being relevant to the Bill. You, sir, are invited to give your ruling as to whether or not it is relevant. In doing so, you will be guided by standing order 190, which, after dealing with the ordinary form of amendments on the second reading of a Bill, goes on to say - but no other amendment may be moved to such question except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
Senator Pearce has offered as a reason why you should agree with him that the proposed amendment is not relevant to this Bill. Before going any further, I cannot refrain from remarking upon the extraordinary nature of Senator Pearce’ s arguments. I have listened to many strange arguments on points of order, but 1 do not think I ever listened to any more curiously-devised or wonderfullyinvented and imagined, than those which the Minister of Defence has used in discussing this amendment. The honorable senator says that the Bill does not give information. The amendment deals with information with which honorable senators should be supplied, in order to enable them to decide whether they should vote for or against the second reading. It would seem to me that it would be a most extraordinary Bill which would not give some information. Presently I shall show what information this Bill does give, and how strictly it relates to Senator Millen’s amendment. Senator Pearce went on to say that the amendment might be relevant to one thing connected with the measure, and that was to the voting upon it. That was a curious thing to say. It was an admission that the amendment would be relevant in the mind of any person who wished to decide how he should vote upon the second reading. What is there in any Bill which makes any consideration relevant, except it be something directly affecting the voting upon it? Is Senator Pearce putting forward the extraordinary proposition that the Senate will vote in regard to any particular Bill having regard to some amendment whose relevancy is exclusively confined to some other measure? I never heard of such an argument. The assumption is that an honorable senator will vote as to the Bill if he can find something else to which the amendment is relevant. Nothing could be more extraordinary. The honorable senator contends that the amendment is not in order, on the ground that it is not relevant to the subject-matter of this Bill. My answer to that is that honorable senators who oppose a Bill do so for definite reasons, such, for instance, as that it does not contain any information. I say, however, that a Bill does contain information. Let me come to something which directly connects this Bill with Senator Millen ‘s proposed amendment. I refer honorable senators to the first preamble of the Bill, which reads -
Whereas bv an Act called the Northern Territory Surrender Act 1907 the State of South Australia has consented to and authorized the construction by the Commonwealth of a railway -
This indicates that South Australia has done certain things, and that in consideration of that fact the Government have submitted this Bill to Parliament. Senator Millen’s amendment is based upon the same ground, and the main part of his contention is that the State of South Australia has not done certain things. It seems to me that the amendment is as strictly relevant to this Bill as is the preamble to which I have referred, and I do not suppose that Ministers will repudiate the preamble. There is a second preamble which indicates another reason for the introduce tion of the Bill exactly on the lines of Senator Millen’s amendment. If the preambles to this Bill are relevant to its subjectmatter, nothing is more certain than that Senator Millen’s amendment is abundantly relevant. It positively follows the lines of the preambles to the Bill.
– When I heard this amendment read I was inclined to the opinion that there might be an objection taken to it on the ground of irrelevancy. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the practice of the Senate, which I have fol lowed since I occupied this position, has been not to confine amendments, as honorable senators have often supposed, to the twoparticular questions stated in standing order 189. Amendments have been proposed, which, if considered relevant, have been admitted as amendments on the second reading of a Bill asking, for instance, that: certain things should be done by this or that authority, and that certain information should be supplied to Parliament before the Bill was further proceeded with. One of these precedents was laid down inconnexion with a similar measure that wasbefore the Senate on 23rd August, 1905. An amendment was moved on the motion for the second reading of the Kalgoorlie toPort Augusta Railway Survey Bill. Theamendment was to leave out all the wordsafter the word “be” in the question, “ That this Bill be now read a second’ time,” with a view to insert the words - “ not further considered until evidence that theParliament of South Australia has formally -consented to the Commonwealth constructing that portion of the proposed line which would be in. South Australian territory has been laidon the table of the Senate.”
That amendment was accepted as being perfectly relevant to the measure. I should, like to say that had the request for information not been confined to South Australia, but had included also Western Australia, the amendment would have been equally relevant to the Bill. I have compared Senator Millen’s amendment with the amendment to which I have just referred, and I have come to the conclusion that it is relevant to the subject-matter ofv the Bill which we have now under consideration. It sets out that before the Bill is further proceeded with information should be given to the Senate which it isnot in possession of now regardingthe proposed route, the cost of construction, the probable revenue and expenditure, and the interest charge; and, further, that the Governments of the two States interested should be approached with a view to deciding whether they are prepared to secureto the Commonwealth some portion of any value which may be added to the landsin their respective States by the construction of this railway. Believing that this amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, I must rule that it is in order.
– There could probably be no moreentertaining spectacle than was afforded bySenator Millen in the speech he delivered with the object of shelving; this measure. In the honorable senator we have a man who, as a member of a former Government, was wedded to the construction of this railway. But that Government has gone, and the honorable senator, relieved of Ministerial responsibility, veers round and takes up a contradictory position to that which he occupied as a Minister. I do not know of any member of this Parliament, or of any other, who could balance himself on such a tight rope with so much grace as Senator Millen has displayed. This discussion has not produced the good results which we might naturally expect from a debate upon a subject of so much importance. Parliamentary debate is assumed to be mainly for the purpose of clearing up differences of opinion, and making a pathway clear through the mists, and maze produced by the clashing of opposite views. During this debate we have heard honorable senators who have expressed themselves against the measure contradicting each other in respect of some of its features. Some, for instance, have approved of the proposed gauge, and others have opposed it. Some have said that the route is the right one to adopt, and others again that it is not. These, according to some honorable senators, are good reasons why this railway should not be built. Then we have had the location and the difficulty of securing timber referred to by Senator St. Ledger as a strong reason why the Bill should be voted down. We have been told that the combustion engines which will be required upon the line form another reason why the proposal contained in the Bill should be voted down. According to the Leader of the Opposition the estimates of its cost are wrong, and the negotiations have been conducted by the Government upon wrong lines. We are further informed that the promise which was made by responsible public men about eleven years ago should not have been given. We are also assured that the route of the proposed line cannot be justified by defence considerations - that an invading force may easily land in the inhospitable Australian Bight, carry all its armaments ashore, and rip up the railway. Unfortunately for these critics, Lord Kitchener has pronounced an opinion under that heading, and I prefer to accept his advice, as a military expert even in preference to that which has been proffered bySenator Millen. It would be better if those who oppose this measure did so frankly, and told Western Australia that she has no right to have a railway constructed within her borders at the expense of the Commonwealth. So far only one honorable senator has had the candour to express such a little Australian view. I refer to Senator Stewart. Other honorable senators have shielded themselves behind the most specious pleas. If we are to treat this subject as it should be treated, we should dismiss from our minds anything in the shape of parochial impulses. I am afraid that the question will suffer severely if honorable senators are not prepared to recognise its magnitude and importance. It is not an ordinary proposal, but one of such far-reaching consequence that it is intended to unite the people of the eastern States with those of Western Australia. It is designed to link up one ocean with another. When one glances at the map which is suspended in this chamber, one cannot fail to realize - no matter how deeply he may have floundered in parochial ideas - that the Bill seeks to give effect to a national work in the truest sense of the term. It is an undertaking which will at one stroke destroy all that smouldering and growing discontent amongst the people of the west which has been engendered by the delay which has been experienced in its construction. That discontent is of no small dimensions. The people of Western Australia were led to believe that this work would be undertaken immediately Federation was accomplished. As a result of those representations, an overwhelming vote was cast in that State in favour of Federation. The one dominating influence with the electors, 40,000 of whom voted for Federation, and only 19,000 against, was the solemn assurance given by the public men of the eastern States that when the Commonwealth Parliament was inaugurated the construction of this line would receive attention. I hope that honorable senators will recognise that the Bill will accomplish a double object. It will accomplish a national work, and smother a growing uneasiness amongst the people of Western Australia on account of the delay which has been experienced in the construction of the line. If honorable senators fail to realize the importance of the occasion, this Chamber will signally fail in guarding its own credit and honour. If we are to allow paltry parochial considerations to influence our judgment in the settlement of this question, if we are to become stunted Australianssuch as have, unfortunately, made their appearance even here - instead of the
Senate being a co-equal part of this Parliament, a Chamber which claims to be a national one, it will sink to a lower level than it would otherwise occupy. Honorable senators cannot settle this question by provincial standards or the promptings of sectional interests. I appeal to them to recognise that this is no small’ work, and that it has even the hallowed reason of precedent to support it, if we choose to look to other lands. Both Canada and the United States were confronted with the problem of bringing into one union the isolated portions of their territory, and they solved it by adopting the identical means which it is proposed that we shall adopt.
– By the building of a State railway ?
– By the building of railways which were paid for in different ways, but the funds for which came out of he common exchequer of those countries. Coming as I do from Western Australia, I submit that I have a special warrant for making this appeal. Since Western Australia became a component part of the Federation, she has never allowed herself to be influenced by paltry parochial considerations. Her people have always risen to the occasion whenever they have been called upon to determine national questions, and their representatives have never failed1 to record their votes with that object in view. Take the case of our White Australia policy as an illustration. Western Australia had a strong sentimental ground, it is true, for sending to this Parliament representatives who assisted to bring about that policy, notwithstanding that the only State which would benefit by it was Queensland. Her people are satisfied to pay their portion of the cost of that policy, and they will continue to do so as long as it is necessary to preserve this continent for a white race. Again, on the question of the Federal Capital, the representatives of Western Australia rose to the level to which it was necessary to rise to discuss that subject, notwithstanding that only one State would be benefited1 by the establishment of the capital.
– Was it not arranged that New South Wales should get the Capital?
– Yes, but the carrying out of that arrangement was left to this Parliament. It might have been carried out in one year, or in ten years, or in twenty years. On the present occasion, when Western Australia is directly con cerned, I claim that Senator Stewart, whose State has- benefited by the votes of Western Australian representatives, should rise to> the height to which those representativesrose for the purpose of bringing about a white-labour policy in Queensland. I need scarcely point out that the representatives of the State from which I hail also shared in the effort to formulate a national policy of Protection, and to inaugurate a bounty system which has been of greater advantage to the eastern States than it has been to Western Australia. The representatives of that State have helped to send the wheelsof industry whirring in the eastern States, though their own is the last and least tobenefit from it. They voted for the Northern Territory acquisition, and relieved1. South Australia of a great burden. In air these matters Western Australia had a veryimperceptible, if not a sentimental interest, but the bill was- very real-, had to be met, and has been cheerfully paid. Therefore, when I cite these as examplesof how the western State has risen, to the occasion on important questions, I can appeal with some justification! to honorable senators to get out of their parochial, sordid-minded groove and discuss this project from the national standpoint. I think it ought to be recognised at the outset that it can be based on at leastthree grounds. First, there is the necessity to keep faith with the understanding which; was arrived at between the people of the eastern States, expressed through their prominent representatives and the people of the western State. Secondly, there is theneed for this National Parliament to take close heed of the condition of every outlying portion of the Commonwealth; and’ if it finds that, either through isolation or distance, or through the effect of the Federal connexion, something is happening; which is barring the progress of any portion, this Parliament should take into consideration its peculiar condition, and strive to compensate it for the drawbacks which may be in evidence there. At the present time we are endeavouring to meet the peculiar needs of Tasmania in other directions.. We see that in that State something is happening which should not happen ; and already a favorable view is taken of the need to compensate it.
– Is this a bait to the Tasmanian senators? Is this how the oracle is being worked?
– The third ground on which the case for this railway rests is that of defence. We have had an important pronouncement on that ground, and even the opponents of this measure are so satisfied with it that, with the exception of Senator Millen, they would appear to have accepted the view of Lord Kitchener as one which is worthy of being followed in the interest and the safety of the Commonwealth. In regard to the first ground, I am compelled to refer briefly to the questions which led up to the giving of the understanding to the peopleof the western State. When the question of federating was being advocated, the construction of this railway was discussed and canvassed very minutely in Western Australia. When at length the time arrived to pass an enabling Bill to refer the Constitution to the people for an expression of their opinion, the Parliament of the State recognised that the Constitution would not suit its peculiar conditions, and proceeded to draft certain amendments, which embodied, as nearly as possible, all the remedies which would overcome the difficulties of the State. These amendments appear under four heads. The first related to the cutting up of Western Australia into certain divisions for electoral purposes. The second referred to a Tariff on a sliding scale, because it was regarded there as a matter of vital necessity that the State should have at least five years of noninterference with its power of raising revenue by Customs and Excise duties. The third amendment referred to the building of this transcontinental railway by the Federal Parliament as a necessary, indispensable condition of the Federal compact. The fourth amendment related to the powers of the Inter-State Commission. To show the Senate that the people of Western Australia earnestly and strongly believed that the people of the eastern States were with them on the question of constructing this railway, the late Sir George Leake, who was also President of the Federal League of Western Australia, took his place in the Legislative Assembly in 1901 as Leader of the Opposition, and asked his following to waive their claim in regard to these four amendments, which included the building of this transcontinental railway, as an indispensable condition of the Federal compact. Since it has been stated by Senator McColl and other honorable senators on the opposite side that there was no promise or undertaking given by the people of the eastern States to the people of Western Australia, it is very necessary to go into histori cal details, in order to give chapter and verse for what is said as we proceed. I have brought the story of events up to the time when the late Sir George Leake, both as President of the Federal League and as Leader of the Opposition, urged the people of Western Australia to accept the Constitution Bill, and to rely upon the people of the eastern States keeping faith with the understanding which they had spontaneously given. Speaking to the Bill in which it was proposed to insist upon the four amendments I mentioned being placed in the Constitution, he is reported on page 1585 of the Western Australian Hansard for 1899 to have made these remarks : -
I know it is a pet idea of the honorable gentleman on my left (Mr. Vosper). He says it cannot be done by the Federal Parliament except with the consent of the States affected, namely, Western Australia and South Australia. Bear in mind, I am arguing upon the basis put forward by the Premier, who says this railway is so necessary and vital to Federation that no person in Australia can be found raising a word against it.
It should be borne in mind that this statement emanated from a gentleman who had attended most of the Conventions, and was in a position to size up the feeling of the people of the eastern States on this question. Proceeding, he says -
Consequently, if everybody in the Commonwealth is in favour of the railway, everybody in each State composing the Commonwealth must also be in favour of the railway ; therefore, it is idle to say that South Australia will object to a railway being built through her territory. Again, I point out to honorable members that I am taking the arguments of the Premier, and I admit I agree with him on that point. I believe this railway is of vital necessity to Federation, and that everybody will be in favour of it therefore, there is no need to make a condition of that which we know will be granted’ as a right’. And if there is no doubt upon that point, I submit with every confidence to this House that we should have a better chance of getting the Federal Government to approve the construction of the railway, and of getting South Australia to consent to the railway passing through that State, if we could sit side by side with South Australian representatives in the- Federal Parliament, or could have a direct representative in the Executive Government under the Federation. I consider, therefore, that the arguments in support of the suggested amend- ment for the construction of this railway arereally not worthy the consideration of this House.
There ended the effort made by the Leader of the Oppositionin the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia to insist upon the construction of this railway being included in the Constitution in the same way as the Premier of New South Wales had insisted, at the Premiers’ Conference, upon the establishment of the Federal Capital in New South Wales being included. He asked the people of the State to accept the Constitution on the understanding that there would be no difficulty over the construction of the railway. In order to show what efforts he took to ascertain the views of responsible public men ‘ in the eastern States, including men who had figured prominently in the Federal arena, in regard to the difficulties which the Parliament of Western Australia considered that the State was confronted with, he wrote a number of letters. To the heads of the Governments in the eastern States he addressed this letter -
I have the honour to forward herewith a copy of the report of the Joint Select Committee of our Parliament dealing with the draft Commonwealth Bill. You will see that the Committee recommend that before this Colony adopts the Bill certain amendments should be made in our favour. The Federal League has always advocated the adoption of the Bill without amendment, as they consider it now too late to permit of alteration. If, however, the proposed amendments, or any other, are practicable, and are likely to meet with favorable consideration by your Government, our League will do nothing to hinder the fullest consideration of the “Select Committee’s proposal. But if you think that no practical effect can be given to the proposals, we will continue to advocate the adoption of the Bill without further amendment. You will greatly assist our efforts if, on receipt of this, vou will telegraph to me, as President of the
League, definitely stating whether or not amendments are in any way possible, or whether, in the event of our Colony requiring terms, negotiations must be entered into with the Federal Government when it is established. It is freely stated here that the Governments of the other Colonies have expressed thmselves as favorable to the amendments which are proposed, and that Sir John Forrest proposed them to the Select Committee in the full belief that they would meet with your approval.
Sir George Turner replied in these terms ;
Would be very glad to assist in any way possible, but after making inquiries find that it will be impossible to now alter the Bill.
Mr. Glynn, of South Australia, and Mr. B. R. Wise, of New South Wales, who were also members of the Federal Convention, replied to the effect that the Constitution Bill could not then be altered. But it is clear from the efforts made by the Federal League of Western Australia that its mouthpiece, the late Sir George Leake, was firmly convinced that the feeling amongst the people of the eastern States was in favour of this railway being constructed as a -national work by the Federal Parliament, when it was established. I do not suppose that there was at the time a more prominent Federalist, or a bigger or, more widely known Australian, than the late Mr. C. C. Kingston. He undertook to enlighten the people of Western Australia as to what was the feeling of the people in South Australia, and as far as he could ascertain, in other parts of Australia. On the 19th April, 1899, when the people of Western Australia were about to vote on the question of accepting the Constitution, Mr. Kingston addressed the following letter to Sir John Forrest, apparently with the intention of enlightening the electors as to whether or not they should vote in the affirmative -
Will you pardon my taking the opportunity of expressing the sincerest hope that Western Australia will, as heretofore, keep pace with the general Federal advance? All the others will, no doubt, be included. To you, who are so familiar with the general advantages of Federation, it would be idle to dwell upon them. The relations between Western Australia and the other Colonies - I speak specially for South Australia - have been always so cordial that I am sure it would be a source of infinite regret to all if Western Australia were even temporarily omitted from the closer union so long contemplated, so arduously contended for, and now apparently so readily capable of consummation by all.
Mr. Kingston wrote this letter at a time when the vote in the eastern States on the Commonwealth Bill had either been taken, or was about to be taken. Western Australia, of course, was the latest to signify her entrance into the Federal system -
Our near constitutional connexion resulting from Federation is in itself a boon to all included within its sphere. I cannot help thinking also that it must -
I ask honorable senators to weigh the import of that word “must” - at no very distant date result in the connexion of the east with the west by rail through the medium, say, of a line from Port Augusta to your gold-fields. This would, indeed, be an Australian work -
Those are the words of a great Federalist, and a man of towering strength and ability in the affairs of this continent - worthy of undertaking by a Federal authority on behalf of the nation in pursuance of the authority contained , in the Commonwealth Bill. It is, of course, a work of special interest to Western Australia and South Australia, and I devoutly hope that the day is not far distant when the representatives of West and South Australia may in their places in a Federal Parliament be found working side bv side for the advancement of Australian interests in this and other matters of national concern.
On the faith of that assurance from Mr. Kingston, who, I may remind honorable senators, was the President of the Federal
Convention ; and on the assurance also of the President of the Federation League, Sir George Leake, the western State entered the Union, believing that the undertaking so given would be observed by the Federal Parliament. We voted for Federation on that understanding. The railway was then a live question on the gold-fields. So great was our ardour for Federation, however, that we were prepared to waive insistence on our claim for the time being, and to put our trust in the good faith of the people of the eastern States. We gave a blank cheque to the Federal Parliament. That cheque is now being presented; and I have every reason to believe that it will be honored. I do not believe that there will be, in this Parliament, sufficient stunted Australians to go hack on the promise of Mr. Kingston, and other equally emphatic Federalists, who believed this to be a national work, the completion of which will go far to remove that feeling which has taken root in Western Australia that our interests have not been sufficiently cared for. That feeling can only be overcome by the laying down of that steel link between the east and the west which will carry out the promise made to Western Australia before Federation.
– Does the honorable senator recollect Mr. Deakin’s Albany speech ?
– I could, of course, go on multiplying instances. Sir William Lyne, when he returned from England, said that had Western Australia insisted on the construction of the railway as a condition of entering the Federal Union, provision would have been made for it in the Constitution. It is far too late in the day now to repudiate the assurances given ; and I feel sure that honorable senators will pay no heed to those who have striven to bring about a fresh disturbance of friendly relations between Eastern and Western Australia on this question. This Parliament should remember its grave obligations, and the imperative duty of giving full effect to promises made. That cannot be done unless this Bill is passed as proposed. Although I do not desire to prolong the debate, there are a few other points to which I cannot Tefrain from referring. The Sydney Morning Herald expressed an opinion on this project - the newspaper, I may remind Senator Gould, upon which he is dependent for much of his prominence in public life - in a leading article on the project while the Deakin Government was in power; and Senator Millen, who has adopted all the arts and wiles of a monkey - a political monkey - in striving to bring about-
– I rise to order. Is the honorable senator justified in referring to Senator Millen as a monkey?
– If the term is considered by any honorable senator to be offensive, it should be withdrawn.
– Senator Lynch said” a political monkey.”
– There is no question of modification. The honorable senator made the statement that Senator Millen had adopted “ all the arts and wiles of a monkey.”
– I said “political monkey.” However, I withdraw the expression, though I cannot see how the action of the Leader of the Opposition can be defended, and will come to the quotation from the Sydney Morning Herald. On 10th February,1910, while the Deakin Government was, for about five minutes, warming the Ministerial benches, that journal, in a leading article, said -
One of the most pleasing features of the Prime Minister’s Ballarat speech was the committal of the Liberal party to the early construction of the two great lines of railway to bind together this continent east and west and north and south.
I wish Senator Millen were present to listen to this expression of opinion. The Sydney Morning Herald was dealing with the policy of a Liberal Government of which he was a member. The article continued -
In the nature of things Mr. Deakin could not make any very definite utterance regarding the northern line, as the position is complicated by the attitude of South Australia with respect to the transfer of the Northern Territory; but we are pleased to note his recognition, not only of the vast and pressing importance of that work, but of the necessity of the Commonwealth being left free to choose the best route. The other proposal to link up Western Australia, fortunately, is not beset with any complications as to territorial control or route. The trial surveys having been made and estimates of cost furnished the proposal is in practical shape, andwe shall hope to see the first sod turned by a Liberal Minister.
How vain the hope !
Apart from all other considerations we have to recognise that the construction of this line is part of the compact made with the Eastern States by Western Australia on coming into the union, and that being so faith must be kept.
The article went on -
Were it otherwise, however, the construction of the line is justified by the necessities of the
Commonwealth. Along with a northern line, its value in a defence scheme has had timely emphasis by Lord Kitchener.
But even on its purely business side the transAustralian proposal is not so hopeless as its opponents in the Eastern States are wont to regard it. Certainly it involves a track through a painfully blank space on the map ; but experience is showing us that we must not jump too rashly to unfavorable conclusions about all the blank spaces on the map of Australia. The proposed line will be 1,065 miles in length, and admittedly the country for a great part of the distance traversed is useless for any purpose at present apparent. But it is not all of that character. Between the South Australian border and Kalgoorlie the surveyors report the existence of a great limestone plain, comprising perhaps 25,000,000 acres of fair to good pastoral country, capable, on a very low estimate, of carrying one million and a quarter sheep ; while on the South Australian side there are considerable areas of country which would be usable for pastoral purposes if a railway were in existence. The estimate of cost after the completion of the survey was £3,988,000; but on an earlier estimate of, roundly,£4,500,000, the engineers considered that after paying interest and charges the loss on the line would not be more than £68,000 in the first year, and that if Western Australian expansion continued at the same rate as in the decade past in ten years the loss should be converted into a profit of £18,000. It is possible that some may be nervous about these estimates, but we are entitled to take a large and hopeful view of the future of our country. Moreover the definite undertaking now given by the Western Australian Government to allocate to the Commonwealth the revenues from the land for 25 miles on either side of the line so long as the enterprise continued non-paying, reduces the Commonwealth’s financial risk to some extent. The railway will give the land value, and it is to be hoped that South Australia will see the wisdom of following her neighbour’s example.
That was the opinion of the journal which is largely responsible for the presence in this chamber of a number of the members of the Opposition. I will come to another journal of a different character - The Pastoralists’ Review. On 15th February, 1910, while the Fusion Government was in power, that journal wrote -
Gradually the people of Australia are having impressed upon them the fact that progress is dependent upon railway expansion, which, as has been pointed out in a series of articles in these columns recently, must depend largely upon private enterprise, for the reason that it will be very difficult for the States to get the money. A new factor has been introduced into the question by Lord Kitchener, who points out, in effect, that our present system of railways presents an element of weakness from a military standpoint, which may have a serious effect in the event of war and invasion of Australia. It is not the policy of a great organizer to create a scare by too plain speaking, and Lord Kitchener cannot well say openly “ If you don’t have new trunk lines connecting West Australia and the Northern Territory with the eastern States you will expose yourselves to attack from an enemy established in either or both of those countries,” but that is what he means. In other words, we have got all our railway eggs in one basket ; a few main lines in the populous parts of the country near the sea coast. As Lord Kitchener puts it, “ Trunk lines, opening up communication and developing the fertile districts of the interior of this great country, would undoubtedly stimulate more than anything else the growth of population as well as foster trade and increase the means of defence.”
So that the Pastoralists’ Review, representing gentlemen whose interests are so well looked after by the opponents of this measure, declared, in no uncertain fashion, in favour of the building of the line by the Commonwealth Government. Now we come to the farmers, and let us see what they have to say. Where is Senator McColl? The honorable senator takes a special interest in the farmers, and with a certain amount of pride insists that he is about the one true representative of that class in this Chamber. Some little time ago there was a conference held in Adelaide of the Commonwealth Council of Farmers, presumably, the governing body and the highest authority representative of that class. At that conference the question of the construction of this railway was discussed. Victoria was represented by Mr. J. Glasgow.
– Not by Senator McColl?
– No. Senator McColl was not there for some reason or another. Mr. J. Macdonald represented South Australia, and at the Commonwealth Council of Farmers, towards the close of the procedings, the following resolution was put to the meeting, on the motion of Mr. Charleston, and was carried unanimously -
Resolved that railway connexion between the eastern States and Western Australia should be established at the earliest possible convenience.
So that, despite the fulminations of honorable senators opposite, the mouthpiece of the squatters, and a representative body of the farmers of this country, the two sections of the community responsible more than any other for their presence in this Chamber, have declared in favour of this proposal. So far as Queensland is. concerned, I regret to notice in the course of this debate that there has been very strong opposition to the measure by senators representing that State. In this connexion I can recall my own experience in Queensland. When’ there I had occasion to meet the editor of the Daily Mail, one of the principal newspapers published in Brisbane. I had a conversation with him about this railway, and he assured me that at the last Federal election the question of its construction was never raised in the State of Queensland. It was never a vital question, and candidates were never asked whether they were for or against it. We have ample corroboration of that statement in the fact that when this measure was being discussed in another place on the second reading, and on tour amendments proposed with the object of side-tracking the Bill, not one Queensland vote was recorded against it. Why should representatives of Queensland in this Chamber be regarded as the only reliable mouthpieces of the public opinion of that State? They take up an unwarrantable position when they say that Queensland is against this measure. The fact is that if the action of the representatives of Queensland in another place is to be taken as a guide, honorable senators representing Queensland in this Chamber have not expressed the . real opinion of the people of that State on this question. A second ground on which the case for this railway rests is of equal importance with that to which I have already referred. It is the duty of this Parliament to take into consideration the industrial, social, and economic conditions of every State in the Commonwealth. If something is happening in any State to cause discontent and dissatisfaction, we should cure the evil, or make compensation in some way. We can see in the condition of Western Australia today, a strange example of the way in which Federation has operated in connexion with the industrial development of the State. Western Australia, from an industrial point of view, is the most backward State in the Commonwealth, and this is due to Federation, and to that alone. It is specially the duty of this Parliament to find some remedy for the discontent and dissatisfaction existing in that State. When the people of Western Australia, by a two to one majority, cast their votes in favour of Federation, they did so in the belief that this railway would be constructed long before this.
– There was no such promise.
– Senator Fraser’s excuse for that statement is that he has been too long globetrotting to know that it has been proved in this Chamber by a reference to recognised authorities, that assurances and undertakings were given by the representatives of the people of the eastern
States that this line would be constructed upon the completion of Federation, and that that was acknowledged by the Sydney Morning Herald.
– There was no promise of the kind made at the Federal Convention.
– It would appear that the honorable senator’s mind, instead of expanding as the result of his long voyaging, has contracted. The State of Victoria, which he represents in the Senate, has’ benefited more than any other State in the Commonwealth by the Federation which the people of Western Australia helped to bring about, and will maintain. They have flung their doors wide open to the products of Victoria.
– They are now exporting apples to the Old Country.
– What a shame !
– I venture to submit that, in discussing this measure, we are entitled to glance briefly at the developments taking place in outlying portions of the Commonwealth. The position I take up is that in Western Australia something has happened as the result of Federation for which a remedy should be found, and if no direct remedy can be found for it, this railway should be constructed to put the people of that State on an equality with the people of the other States. During the fight for Federation, those who on the gold-fields of Western Australia took an interest in the matter, as I did, knew very well that by entering the Federation they would be throwing the door wide open to the products of the other States. We knew that we would be almost damping the fires of every new-born industry of that State as effectively as if a hydrant had been turned upon them. We did so to such an extent that they have not recovered up to the present time. The records, according to Mr. Knibbs, go to show that during the period 1904 to 1909 investments in plant, machinery, and buildings in Western Australia have diminished ; whilst in each of the other five States there has been a marked and creditable increase in this respect. I find that, according to the fourth edition, of the Commonwealth Year Book, page 547, dealing with the money invested in machinery alone during the six years referred to, the figures for New South Wales show an increase of 34 per cent. In Victoria the increase was 18 per cent. ; in Queensland, 6 per cent. ; in South Australia, 15 per cent. ; in Tasmania, 37 per cent. ; and in Western Australia the figures show a decrease of 3 per cent. The figures with regard to investments iri plant and buildings show an increase in New South Wales during the same period of 37 per cent. ; in Victoria, 13 per cent. ; Queensland, 7 per cent. ; South Australia, 14 per cent. ; Tasmania, 7 per cent. ; and Western Australia, a decrease of 14 per cent.
– What has that got to do with this railway?
– I am pointing out that a position of affairs exists in Western Australia, as the result of Federation, which gives rise to discontent and dissatisfaction, and this might be overcome by the adoption of some such means as is proposed in this Bill. I do not wish to weary honorable senators on this subject ; but if they will consult the Commonwealth Year Book they will find that there has been a decrease in the number of employes in factories in Western Australia during the six years 1904-1909 ; whilst, during the same period, the figures show a marked increase in every one of the other live States. The figures show that even on the basis of the number of employe’s in each 10,000 of the population, there is a decrease in Western Australia as compared with the other States. I hope that .these figures disclose only a temporary condition of affairs, but I contend that it is the duty of this Parliament to strive to. discover some remedy for it, or to make up for it in the way here proposed, by the construction of this railway.
– The railway will give Western Australia no new factories.
– I have admitted that. But it would help to remove the discontent due to the reduction of factories and the transfer of trade to the other States. Western Australia has paid its full price for a seat at the Federal feast, but has bad to be content with the crumbs that fell from the table. Distance, too, is a standing disadvantage and debit to Western Australia’s account. Every unnecessary mile over which commodities and passengers have to travel in reaching that State constitutes s. standing bar to its progress. Taking Melbourne as a centre, goods can be landed t 50 per cent, less at Brisbane than at Perth. This means that the persons engaged in industries in the West have to work harder and longer, or be satisfied with Jess profits than corresponding industries in the East. The struggling men in the far interior, as well as the settler on the coast, have to bear this perpetual burden. It means, further, that wealth may remain undug and land untilled in the West, which is bad for that State and bad for the Commonwealth. Harvesters can be landed at *£3 15s. at Brisbane, while it costs nearly to send them to Fremantle. It only costs 30s. from New York to Fremantle. In putting forward this case for the construction of the proposed line, I have to remind honorable senators that there is nothing novel in the proposal. If we consider what has taken place in similar Federations, we shall find that in other countries a course has been followed which is exactly the same as that which this Parliament is now asked to adopt. If we turn to the United States, we shall find that, in the early sixties, Congress expended vast sums of money for the purpose of discovering an accessible road over the Rocky Mountains, in order to unite the settlements on the Pacific coast with the larger settlements on the eastern side. And, further, lands belonging to the people of the United States were alienated, for the purpose of inducing a company to undertake the construction of the Union-Pacific railway. The United States Congress had no other object in view in assisting that undertaking but to connect the isolated Pacific settlements with the larger and more populous settlements on the eastern side. If we turn to Canada, we shall find that the same course was followed by the Dominion Parliament. Senator Stewart was recently through that country, but he does not appear to have benefited by his travels. In Canada, when the Federation was being brought about in 1867, the principal States concerned were Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Brunswick and Nova Scotia would not join the Federation. I particularly desire the attention of Senator Fraser for a few moments, because he is a Canadian who is never tired of descanting upon the beautiful features of Canada and its policy. Now in 1867, the provinces of Brunswick and Nova” Scotia declined to become partners to the Federal compact till they were guaranteed a railway from the St. Lawrence River to the City of Halifax. That railway, which is nearly 2,000 miles long, was built at the behest of two provinces in that young Union. Section 19 of the British North America Act gives effect to the demand made by the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia before they would join the Federation. Later on, when British
Columbia was talked about as a possible addition to the Union, that State stipulated for three things.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Which they got as the result of private enterprise.
– I will deal with that aspect of the matter presently. One of those conditions, which is set out in Statutory Rules and Orders, Revised to 31st December, 1903, volume 1, reads -
It is agreed that the existing Customs tariff and Excise duties shall continue in force in British Columbia until the railway from the Pacific Coast and the system of railways in Canada are connected, unless the Legislature of British Columbia should sooner decide to accept the tariff and excise laws of Canada.
The second stipulation was -
The Government of the Dominion undertake to secure the commencement, simultaneously, within two years from the date of union, of the construction of a railway from the Pacific towards the Rocky Mountains, and from such point as may be selected, east of the Rocky Mountains, towards the Pacific, to connect the seaboard of British Columbia with the railway system of Canada; and, further, to secure the completion of such railway within ten years from the date of the union.
So that Canada at that time occupied precisely the same position that we occupy today. She was faced with the necessity for bringing the distant portions of her territory into closer union; and as British Columbia stood out, that province, with only 30,000 inhabitants, was able to successfully stipulate for the building of a railway two thousand miles long. A few moments ago Senator Gould interjected that the railway was paid for by private enterprise. It was paid for in land and cash. The cash was $53,000,000, and the land, valuing it at . $1 per acre which the Opposition at the time contended was a ridiculously low estimate, was . worth $25,000,000. In other words, $78,000,000 were paid by the Canadian people for the construction of a provincial line 2,000 miles long, although it meant an impost on them of nearly £4 per head. Now, the impost upon the people of Australia which is represented by the proposed transcontinental railway, will be barely£1 per head. But even the residents of Halifax, and small Canadians of the type of Senator Stewart, were perfectly prepared to put their cash into that line for the purpose of connecting British Columbia with the eastern provinces. It is true that the connexion was made by private enterprise; but how does that affect the question, seeing that Canadian money was raised, east, west, north and south, to build it?
– They had to send their commerce round Cape Horn at that time.
– No. They brought it across the Isthmus of Panama by means of a railway. Then I would ask what was done in the case of Prince Edward Island? It did not federate with the Dominion until 1873, when it stipulated that the railways which were in course of construction should be taken over by the Federal Government. The conditions which it imposed were as follow : -
Efficient steam service for the conveyance of mails and passengers to be established, and maintained between the island and the mainland of the Dominion, winter and summer, thus placing the island in continuous communication with the Intercolonial Railway and the railway system of the Dominion.
That the railways under contract and in course of construction for the Government of the island shall be the property of Canada.
So that the railways in course of construction passed automatically to the Canadian Government, and the distant provinces were made part owners of the railways in that island. But the provisions which were granted for the maintenance of a fast passenger service, evidenced the anxiety of the Dominion Government to draw closer to itself that small settlement of 40,000 people. Compare its attitude with that of those small Australians who gtudge bringing into closer relationship the people of the eastern States with the 300,000 souls in Western Australia. All that we ask is that effect shall be given by this Parliament to a well-understood, though an unwritten, undertaking. That is. the whole purpose of the Bill. In discussing the measure, Senator McColl spoke of the character of the country through which the proposed line will pass. He declared that it was dry and inhospitable.
– I do not think that the honorable senator could have heard me speak if he says that.
– If the honorable senator did not urge the character of the country which the line will traverse as a reason for his opposition to the Bill, other honorable senators have done so. Senator Stewart referred to that country as a howling wilderness, a shifting sandbed. I have not been over it, although I have been in most parts of Australia; but the men who were sent out to report upon it for the benefit of this Parliament knew their work, and I know they would not consider it their duty to mislead us. In regard to the class of country which the line will traverse, they are very emphatic. Despite what may be said to the contrary by certain honorable senators, it is clear that out of 1,000 miles which the line will pass through, nearly 900 miles may be classed as fairly good land, which may be turned to profitable account later on.
– Can the honorable senator state its average rainfall?
– It is said to be 7 or 8 inches.
– If that country be good, why is it the only long strip of the Australian coast which has no settlement?
– The honorable senator has propounded one of those hollow queries which I thought he had sufficient sense to leave alone. He might as well ask me why Western Australia, which fifteen years ago had a population of only 50,000, has to-day a population of nearly 300,000. He might as well ask me how it happens that the Roma district^ which a few years since was a howling wilderness, with the exception of a station every 70 miles or so, is to-day being rushed by persons in search of land. When he puts such a question ito me, I am tempted to’ ask him why the lands south of Dalby have not been settled earlier? A simple reason which applies to all parts of Australia is that persons have a knack of looking for the more pleasant places before they will venture into the unpleasant places for the time being. They have a habit of finding places where they can make the most headway, and it is for that reason that the southern part of Queensland was settled first. People are now rushing to parts to the south of Dalby, whereas twenty years ago a person would have been considered a lunatic who proposed to go there. We are told that the rainfall along this route is from 7 to 8 inches. That is, problematical. However, we have Senator McColl’s work to go by. He has done us the good service of securing for us a map showing the rainfall. According to this map, which was compiled by the Government Meteorologist, there is” a belt of country with a 10-in. rainfall which approaches to within a trifling distance of the route of -the -proposed railway.
– Does not Senator McColl say that good crops can be grown in country with a rainfall of 10 inches?
– Yes. I intend to remind Senator McColl of what he has written on that subject. I intend to quote his written statement, because it takes a long while for the truth to penetrate some persons who are unwilling to learn. On page 7 of his report, dated 20th September, 1911, Mr. Deane, the professional adviser of the Commonwealth, says -
The first 70 miles of the railway traverses the main auriferous green-stone belt in which the gold-field of Kalgoorlie is situated. From this point on for about 100 -miles the country is granitic, mostly covered with alluvial gravels and loam. At 175 miles from Kalgoorlie limestone is met with, and this continues to about 640 miles, where the sandhills of South Australia are encountered.
The point which needs to be emphasized is that these alleged sandhills, which Senator Stewart mistakenly told the Senate existed, do not turn up, according to this expert, until we get east of the border between the two States. There is no appearence of sand there.
The sandhill region is traversed for about 100 miles.
Granted that there are sandhills for 100 miles in a stretch of 1,000 miles -
This consists of sand ridges with flats of varying widths lying between, and the soil on these flats is generally excellent and carries grass and saltbush and other useful vegetation. The sandhills themselves, which seem to have in all cases a solid core and are not mere sanddunes, are mostly covered with mallee and acacia scrub, with spinifex.
Even the sandhills are covered with a growth which usually does not occur on sand - I refer to acacia mallee and spinifex. In some parts of Australia spinifex is regarded as an excellent stand-by for stock ; but that is not the worst which occurs in this solitary belt of 100 miles in a stretch of 1,000 miles -
Near Wynbring, 740 miles from Kalgoorlie, granite is again reached, and there is here an area of bare rock, from which water can be collected. At Kychering, 20 miles further on, there is a large extent of bare rock amounting to about 40 acres. At about 802 miles from Kalgoorlie Tarcoola is reached. Here the quartzite bands contain gold, and gold mining is becoming fairly prosperous. To the east of this, at Glenloth, some distance south of the railway, there is another promising gold-field. From a point west of Tarcoola to Port Augusta the country is occupied, having been taken up for sheep runs. The character of it generally is pastoral and of good quality. Around the salt lake beds which are encountered in this district there are low sandhills, which, however, after wet weather become covered with vegetation. Tablelands rising 200 or 300 feet above the rest of the country are also met with. On the top and sides of these nutritious herbage, chiefly saltbush, grows. The tablelands consist of a ‘sandstone formation^ more or less denuded, the surface of the land being covered with very hard -sandstone fragments.
It is plainly shown by this report that there is barely 100 miles of sand plain, and that -the balance of the country to be traversed by the railway is tolerably fair pastoral country - country which is capable of carrying a large number of stock and a limited population. And if the Meteorological Department can be depended upon, there is also a chance of wheat-growing being carried on. During the present season in Western Australia we have seen wheat growing in country with a rainfall of 7 and 8 inches, by reason of improved methods of cultivation.
– There has been a number of failures there this year.
– At Kellabeirn this year I have seen hundreds of acres of wheat feet high with a rainfall of from 7 to 8 inches. We have an excellent authority in the honorable senator on dry farming. He has clearly shown that in America a similar experience has taken place with vast stretches of country. He has told us how wheat and other products required for human consumption can be grown there on belts of country with a rainfall of 10 inches and under.
– Do not quote him.
– It is very necessary to quote from the honorable senator’s elaborate report, if only for the purpose of combating the effort of those who have indulged in a howl of “stinking fish “ at the interior of this country. It is sad to reflect that men come into this Parliament, I will not say to foul their nests - although if I did, it would be very near the mark - but certainly to degrade their country, and, at die same time, to ignore the teachings of history in other countries, which have arid or semi-arid areas similar to our own. When we find men of that description talking in this peculiar way, it is necessary to take up a report written by an honorable senator on their side, and to quote what he says has been found possible in other parts of the world. In 1909, Senator McColl attended a Dry Farming Congress in the United States, and did excellent service by furnishing a report, which, I think, will be appreciated by very many persons who have the hard task of going into the dry interior of Australia with their wives and families, and striving to found homes. I have every confidence that these men will appreciate the work which Senator McColl has done to solve the problem of making productive the arid and semi-arid areas of our interior. On page 34, he says -
The area of the United States is 3,026,000 square miles, and from the Atlantic to the 95th meridian it is a humid country. West of that line are the semi-arid and arid areas, interspersed by mountain ranges, where the rainfall is heavier. It .is from these mountains the water comes for irrigation, but when all available water is used for that purpose, a mere fraction of the land will be irrigated. There will still remain to be cultivated by the natural precipitation the great bulk of the territory, with a rainfall of from 5 to 16 inches per annum.
Less than 50 years ago the bulk of this territory was written down as desert, as a glance at the older maps will show. It was deemed impossible of agricultural development. And this applies to nearly all the area included in the States and territories of Arizona, California, Colorada, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming.
The discovery of gold and other minerals in California and other States drew attention to Western America, but the hardships encountered in crossing the Continent to get there were deemed almost insuperable, and thousands perished in the attempt. The Great Trek of the Mormons in 1847 from Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and other States was carried out in the face of terrible hardships, and of great loss of life. This was through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah. The Santa Fe trail through Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, was equally terrible to travel over, and if any one had prophesied that the Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain, with an area of tens of thousands of square miles, would ever have been settled on, he would be reckoned a dreamer or a fool.
How true it is to the present day. Men who were afraid to go far out simply looked at a map, and, seeing that there were no mountainous ranges, they naturally concluded that the country was all desert. On the excellent authority of Senator McColl, we know that a belt of this type of country in the United States was described as a desert. He proceeds to describe the transition stage -
From foreign shores, and crowded eastern cities, from the over-tilled and rest requiring lands of the humid regions, the people are flocking in multitudes, and settling and thriving on the lands where the pioneers of the past, heartsick and weary, lay down and died. The population of the eleven semi-arid States named advanced from 864,024 in 1870 to 2,965,711 in 1880, to 6,362,604 in 1900; and, though the exact figures of the present date are not obtainable, there is little doubt, from the enormous influx of population during the past few years, still continuing, that the population in the census of 1910 will be over -
How many- do honorable senators think? Over 15,000,000 persons in this alleged desert. After all, a desert is not a bad place to support a population. Let us now hear Senator McColl’s own opinion. Continuing, he says -
What are the lessons of the Dry Farming Convention that we may take to guide and assist us in this stupendous task? We know that with an average rainfall of 10 inches, and even less, men can hold on and live. But before we have to rely on the10-inch areas we have over one million square miles, or six hundred and forty million acres, under a rainfall from 10 to 20 inches.
I say “ Amen “ to the last paragraph. If it is possible to settle them on that belt which is favorably situated, with a rainfall of from 10 to 20 inches, let us by all means do so, but we must face the obstinate facts of the present day as we find them. Seeing that men are being pushed out there, and that they can live according to the best authority available, there is no reason to suppose that’ the same thing cannot happen along the route of this proposed railway.
– With these prospects in front of the people of Western Australia and South Australia, why do they not build the line for themselves? That is the great point.
– I do not propose to go back over my arguments even to satisfy the honorable senator. If we cast a cursory glance over the curious treatment which this proposal has been subjected to, and which might, perhaps, be dignified by the name of a debate, it will be found that honorable senators opposite object to everything connected with the project. In their opinion, the route is wrong, the gauge is wrong, the land to be traversed is wrong, the estimates of the trusted servants of the Commonwealth are wrong ; there is no water, and the promise which was given, as well as the project itself, is also wrong. We must conclude that those who are really opposed to the proposal are sheltering themselves behind various artificial excuses, and, instead of being candid, as they ought to be, and saying openly, “ We object to the railway in any form. We think that it is not a national work. We believe that there has been no promise given, and therefore the line should not be built.”
– Did Senator McColl say that he would oppose the Bill?
– I really do not know. I have every confidence that when the Senate finally settles down, and starts to sift the arguments, if they can be so dignified, from the sound reasons which exist for the construction of the line, there will be a substantial majority in favour of the Bill, and that a State in the Union which has prospered in many directions, but which is not prospering in an economic or industrial sense, will at length be admitted into the Federal sisterhood, and will” not be regarded as that maid of all work which is usually given a step-sister under similar conditions. If the Commonwealth, will build this line, it will heal the discontent which exists. If, however, it failsto do so, it may be prepared for anything in the future; but certainly I submit that the moral and unwritten obligation which was entered into between the east and the west should be given effect to on this occasion, and that the hope and the confidences of the people of the western State should be at last, if tardily, vindicated - the hope that the time had arrived for Western Australia to be admitted to the Federal sisterhood, and not continue to be the neglected and forgotten step-sister she was fast beginning to regard herself. I thank honorable senators for their courtesy in listening to my remarks, and hope that the Bill will have a short and successful passage.
.- The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat, has put the very best leg forward in submitting the case for the State which he represents.
– For Australia.
– No, not for Australia. I find no fault with his statement from his own point of view. He said that there is a moral, I believe he even went so far as to say a written, obligation on the Commonwealth to construct this railway.
– I said “ unwritten.”
– At any rate, there was a moral obligation. But that obligation exists only in’ the imaginations of a very few people.
– Some would call it a bribe.
– It does not exist in the written bond as we know it, nor did we hear a word about the subject during; the discussion on Federation, outside perhaps the limits of the two States more intimately concerned:
– Why call it a bribe?
– I did not use that term. I say that there is no obligation on the part of the people of Australia to- build this or any -other line. Every obligation resting upon the people is contained in the Constitution, and any statements made by individuals in their irresponsible capacity have absolutely no binding effect upon this Parliament. What the people of Australia assented to, and bound themselves by when they agreed to federate is contained within the limits of the Constitution. They are not bound by a tittle outside that. Therefore, we can eliminate from our minds all those mild heroics about “ moral obligations “ and “ binding promises.” We are told that this is a “ great national project.” I think that “ great national projects “ have been pretty accurately described as those which are not paying propositions, and which, therefore, must be carried out, if at all, at the expense of the whole people. We are also told in the same tone of heroics that this line is absolutely necessary to bind the east and the west together with bands of steel and links of iron, and until those links are joined, we can have no real Federation. If that be so, we can never have real Federation at all. How are we going to bind up the little State of Tasmania with bonds of steel? AVe cannot run a railway across there.
– Make a tunnel.
– We get nothing but frivilous replies when we bring the supporters of this project face to face with the consequences of their own line of reasoning. If it be impossible for us to have Federation without linking together all the States with bonds of steel, we can never have it. It would be very much more of a national project, and would meet with my hearty support, if the Commonwealth ventured upon owning a line of steamers to run between the mainland and Tasmania, instead of allowing the people to be fleeced by private ship-owners. But I desire to point out that railways are not necessary for binding different countries together. As a matter of fact, it has been said by some of the highest scientific authorities that oceans, instead of separating countries, really connect them, and make them more easily accessible to each other.
– Is that the reason why when the honorable senator comes down from North Quensland he travels by sea?
– When I come down here, whether I like it or not, I have to travel by steamer half the way. But I do not come cap in hand to the Federal Government asking them to build a railway to
North Queensland. We are told that it is necessary to link up Fremantle with Adelaide.
– The honorable senator’s State is linked up with the rest of Australia, and therefore his people have no difficulty.
– We linked up Queensland at our own expense. But the idea of the supporters of this Bill seems to be not so much to link up Western Australia by a railway, but to link up the capitals. There seems to be an idea that every State is really the capital of the State - that Victoria is Melbourne, that New South Wales is Sydney, that South Australia is Adelaide, and that Western Australia is Perth. We should eliminate that notion from our minds, and refuse to regard the Commonwealth as being summed up in those capital cities. I refuse to accept that idea altogether. Far too much importance has been attached to these capitals. It would be very much better not only for the people of Australia as a whole, but even for the particular States themselves, if, instead of pursuing a policy which would furtherthe process of congestion in a few big cities, we advocated onewhich would scatter population rather more evenly through the land, and open up several undeveloped regions. We were treated by Senator Lynch to a glowing picture of the possibilities of the belt of country through- which this line is to pass. I do not blame the honorable senator for adopting that line of argument, because, no doubt, it was necessary as a make weight against the very telling quotations in which the character of the country has been painted by several Opposition speakers. Senator Lynch told us that the 1,100 miles of country to be traversed by the railway are not only capable of carrying a large quantity of stock, but also of producing wheat and other cereals. We have in Australia an enormous coastline, ranging from the temperate right up to the torrid zone. The portion of Australia most congenial to the people of our race who first came here, was undoubtedly that in which this Parliament House is situated - the more temperate portion. It had a climate somewhat similar to that of Europe, from which they came. It would produce fruit and vegetables, and carry the various breeds and brands of. stock which were in common use in the Old Country. But it is a curious fact that this particular belt of country, 1,100 miles in length, and within easy reach of the coast, with a climate that is congenial to the people of our race, and is easily accessible by sea-
– The coast is absolutely inaccessible.
– There are three or four fairly good ports along the coast.
– Not one.
– Not one worth talking about between Fowlers Bay and Esperance. If the honorable senator were aware of the facts he would know that.
– The honorable senator is denying statements that have been made by well-known people on his own side. At any rate, the region in question is favoured in regard to climatic conditions. How is it, then, that this is the only 1,100 miles of coast quite unoccupied? Will any one deny the truth of that statement? Travel right round, from the Northern Territory to the Gulf of Carpentaria, from Cape York as far as Thursday Island - go anywhere you like - and you will not find in any portion of Australia 200 miles of coast, except this, that is unoccupied.
– Does not the honorable senator know the reason in this case? There are no harbors on the coast.
– The reason is because the country is uninhabitable.
– There are harbors at Streaky Bay, Murat Bay, Smoky Bay, and Fowler’s Bay.
– All within South Australia.
– Well, one-half of this line will be in South Australia. Can the supporters of the Bill point to any other strip of coast that is unoccupied ? Yet here we have 1,100 miles of country, the character of which has been painted in glowing colours on account of its immense possibilities, and there is not a single person, as far as we can learn, living upon it.
– There are people living at Smoky Bay, Streaky Bay, and Fowler’s Bay.
– The honorable senator was just now saying that the country was inaccessible because there were no harbors.
– Those ports are in a small portion of the country.
– How did we in Queensland develop our territory?
– By sugar bounties.
– Well,if the £4,500,000 which we are asked to spend on this line would maintain in comfort 100,000 people, and give employment to 30,000, there would be more to be said for it. But, as far as I can see, we might as well throw the money into the sea straight away as expect by its means to provide a livelihood for anybody, or to increase the’ population of Australia. If the country is as good as it is said to be, and is capable of such possibilities, why is it that the States concerned have done nothing in all these years to develop it themselves ? South. Australia has done a little in the Northern Territory in the way of railway development. Queensland, in the Gulf country, as far as Cooktown and Normanton, has built railways at public expense, and has opened up and developed the land. It is very strange, however, that something has not been done with the country which this railway is to traverse, if it be so good as Senator Lynch has represented.
– There are a lot of syndicate railways in Queensland.
– No, there are not.
– There were some.
– We had some, but not a lot. An attempt was made to saddle Queensland with syndicate railways; but, to a great extent, it failed. No representative of Western Australia is entitled to throw that in any one’s face. It has been pointed out that a very large portion of the population of Western Australia is cut off from the eastern States, except by following a very circuitous course. That population is one which contributes very largely to the revenue of the Commonwealth ; and for many reasons it should receive favorable consideration. I know aswell as any one that these people deserve a great deal of consideration. They number amongst them the pioneers, who went out to what was then a desert in WesternAustralia, and were the means of opening up, perhaps, the richest gold-field in the’ Commonwealth. They have produced enormous wealth, and are engaged in their industry under very many disabilities, and considerable hardships. It is also quite true that they cannot reach the eastern States, or get their goods from those Statesexcept by a very roundabout and circuitouscourse. But, admitting all that, there is a. far easier remedy than the construction of this line for the disabilities under which they labour. It is a remedy which it is well within the power of fhe State Government to adopt. But, in the interests of the capital city of Western Australia, no Government of that State has yet proposed to provide this remedy for the disabilities of these people. One of the main reasons put forward for the construction of this line is that if the people of the gold-fields of Western Australia wish to go to the eastern States they have to travel hundreds of miles westward, and then undergo a four days’ voyage by sea before they can reach railway communication with those States. That might be avoided by building a line of railway from 120 to 130 miles long from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay. Will any one contend that it is not within the power of the State Government of Western Australia to remove the disabilities of the population of the gold-fields straight away by reducing their journey to the sea by about 200 miles, and the sea voyage to the eastern States by two days? The adoption of this course would bring the whole of the people of Western Australia practically two days nearer to the eastern States.
– To which railway is the honorable senator referring now?
– I am referring to a way in which the disabilities under which the people of the gold-fields of Western Australia labour might easily have been, removed by the State Government.
– The State Government is building the railway referred to.
– We have often heard in this Parliament that the State Government of Western Australia were going to construct this railway, but nothing has been done so far.
– The line is now halfway to Esperance Bay.
– If the State Government were in earnest in the matter they would have started the line from the port. In any case, if they are constructing that line, that does away with one of the arguments for the construction of the railway dealt with in this Bill, and if the Esperance Bay line is constructed, I may further say that it will reduce by more than half the revenue likely to be derived from the working of this railway. I ‘ shall deal a little later with the prospects of this line in the matter of earning revenue. Apart from what it may, or may not, earn under existing conditions, it is an undoubted fact that if a line is built from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay the possibilities of this line as a revenue producer will be immensely diminished. People will not pay the high freights necessary for the long journey of over. 1,000 miles by this line when they
will be able to reach the coast in a journey of 120 miles by the other railway. I might say that this proposal would be much more acceptable to me if we were given under this Bill the right to continue the line fom Port Augusta beyond Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay, so that it would be connected with the sea coast at both ends.
– Would the honorable senator vote for it then?
– I very probably would.
– I have my doubts.
– We should, at all events, then have a line, a portion of which would be highly payable. While I doubt very much ‘ whether we have the right to construct this line, we are asked to build a railway which, so far as I can see, is not likely to pay in a generation, or, perhaps, two generations.
– Then it will not matter, because the honorable senator will be dead by that time.
– The short-sighted and very narrow view which Senator McGregor suggests should animate honorable members of this Parliament will not, I am sure, be approved by any one who has a desire for the welfare of the country. Australians worthy of the name do not live for themselves alone. They look to the future of the country and the future of the children they will leave behind them. I am considering what this proposal will mean for the future of Australia; and I say that the .£4,000,000 which it is proposed to spend on the construction of this line might be very much more profitably spent in other directions. It appears to me to be very strange that, when the Commonwealth has a Territory of its own, as large almost as any of the States, with the exception of Western Australia, we should, instead of proposing to build railways to develop that Territory, be considering a proposal to develop the territory of two of the States. The Territory of the Commonwealth to which I refer needs development as badly as does any other portion of Australia, and we have been frequently told that, for defence purposes, it needs railway communication with the eastern States more than does any other part of Australia.
– Are we to understand that the Commonwealth has no responsibility for the defence of Western Australia ?
– No; but the Northern Territory has been spoken of as “ the back door of Australia,” and the danger to the integrity of the Commonwealth is greater there than in Western Australia, where there is a considerable population to resist an invasion, whilst the Northern Territory is practically unoccupied.
– Will the honorable senator vote for a railway to the Northern Territory ?
– Undoubtedly, if it is one which can reasonably be approved of. But if such a railway as this were brought forward to secure connexion with the Northern Territory, it is extremely doubtful whether I should vote for it. This is the greatest project the Commonwealth has yet been asked to undertake, and it is submitted in a way which involves the creation of about the worst precedent that could be created by any Government or Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator think that Queensland objects to this railway?
– Queensland has had quite enough to do to build railways for herself. It has been a bigger task than her people might reasonably have been asked to cope with, but they have undertaken the task.
– Does the honorable senator believe that they object to this railway ?
– I do.
– That opinion is flatly contradicted in another place.
– I am not responsible for what other persons may think or do.
– There is no harm in reminding the honorable senator that another voice has come from Queensland.
– That is from those who have a right to be heard, and I have no objection to it.
– It is unanimously in favour of this line.
– I have known wonderful things to happen in my time, and one of the most wonderful things that ever happened occurred in this Senate in connexion with the railway we are now discussing. It is absolutely certain that this line would never, in our time, have received the assent of the representatives of South Australia, had it not been for the disgraceful bargaining, and the “ scratch me and I will scratch you “ policy indulged in under the Deakin Government in connexion with the transfer of the Northern Territory.
– That is not a fact.
– It is an absolute fact. Why was any reference whatever to this so-called transcontinental railway included in the Bill for the surrender of the Northern Territory?
– It was not South Australia that put it there.
– I should like to remind Senator Givens that a Government he supported put that agreement in the Bill referred to.
– And the members of a Government supported by Senator Millen approved of it.
– I would remind Senator Millen that, while giving a general support to the Government to whom he has referred, they did not command my undivided support for every proposition they brought forward. I have always had sufficient independence of judgment to go on my own occasionally. We are asked by this Bill to consent to the construction of this line without a permanent survey having been made, and without any plans, sections, or books of reference being tabled.
– We know the number of sleepers that will be required, and the number of loads of dirt that will have to be shifted.
– The number of sleepers might be reckoned up by a child. The line will be over 1,000 miles long, there will be so many sleepers to the rod required, and the number required for the railway can be found by simple multiplication.
– We know the number of cubic yards of dirt to be shifted.
– No man can tell how many cubic yards of dirt will have to be shifted until he knows what will be the permanent route of the line. If we had plans, sections, and books of reference tabled we should know that for every embankment so many cubic yards of earth would be necessary, and for every cutting it would be necessary to remove so many cubic yardsby excavation. We should know also every detail of every culvert and bridge required. You, Mr. President, were for years, with myself, a member of the Queensland Parliament, and you can bear me out in the statement that that Parliament was never asked to consent to the construction of any line of railway until the plans, sections, and books of reference, containing information upon which a contractor might tender for the construction of the line, had been tabled and approved. Senator Millen has told us that in New South Wales an even more complete procedure is followed, and they have a further safeguard in the Works Committee, to” which railway proposals are referred. But here we are asked to sign a blank cheque - to give the Government of the day, whoever they may be, a roving commission to build this line practically where they like. There is nothing to prevent them deviating 100 miles to the north, or 50 or 60 miles to the south, bringing the line right down to the coast. I say that the Government are creating a very bad precedent indeed. Honorable senators on this side may believe that it is all right, since they have perfect confidence in the Government now in power. But we have no guarantee that they will continue in power, and I should like to know whether they are prepared to repose the same confidence in any other Government. As a member of any Parliament I have never been prepared to surrender the rights of Parliament to any Government. It is, in my opinion, a very wise thing for Parliament to keep its grip upon the Government of the day, so that they may not do anything which will not have the express approval and authority of Parliament behind it. I want to know why every succeeding Government during the last six or eight years have been in such an almighty hurry to rush this proposal through. They have submitted it without sufficient information, and without proper plans.
– Can it be said to have been hurried after eleven years of Federation ?
– I think so. It is a shameful thing to ask this Parliament to authorize the expenditure of millions of the people’s money on this railway before we have even the necessary authority from the States interested to build the line, and before we have had placed before us any permanent plans.
– Does the honorable senator know that Mr. Deakin said that this railway would be constructed at once if Western Australia accepted Federation?
– I do not know and I do not care what Mr. Deakin or any other individual may have said.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was dealing with the character of the country which will be traversed by the railway that we are. now considering. I have already shown pretty conclusively that the mere fact that that country, which should enjoy the most congenial climate in Australia, has remained absolutely unoccupied for so many years, is proof positive that it is unoccupiable, and therefore incapable of development under present conditions. On the other hand, if the flowery picture which has been drawn of it by some honorable senators be a true picture, undoubtedly it is the duty of the two States most intimately concerned in this project - I refer to Western Australia and South Australia - to build the line for themselves, just as all other States have built their connecting railways for themselves. During the last week or two, most honorable senators have been informed by circular from a gentleman in South Australia whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting, that while the land in that State through which the proposed railway; will pass is incapable of development, the country which it would traverse if it followed a route closer to the sea, is capable of development. If the line is to be constructed for developmental purposes, that feature should be most carefully considered. But, so far, this has been purely a rush proposition, as the circumstances under which the Bill has been introduced clearly prove. The chief reason which I see for the construction of the line from a commercial point of view is for the purpose of accelerating the delivery of the oversea mails for the eastern States, and of serving the large population which is to be found on the Western Australian gold-fields.
– The Bill has not been rushed.
– Yes. I say that any proposition involving an expenditure of £4,000,000 which is submitted to Parliament without any proper plans accompanying it, is a rush proposition. I repeat that the reason for building the line which’ appeals most strongly to me is that it will accelerate the delivery of the oversea mails in the eastern States by probably two days ; and that it will largely serve the population of the Western Australian gold-fields. But if the Government of that State are serious in their proposal to connect Kalgoorlie and Esperance Bay by rail, and if they are not overruled by the inhabitants of Perth and Fremantle, ninetenths of the necessity which at present exists for this railway will disappear. The people of the gold-fields would be much better served by a line from Esperance Bay to Kalgoorlie than they would be by the proposed transcontinental line, and consequently nine-tenths of the revenue anticipated from the latter will have vanished. It would be much more economical for residents of the gold-fields to get their supplies oversea to Esperance, and to have them carried thence by rail to the gold-fields ; because it is undeniable that even under the most favorable circumstances, railway carriage cannot hope to compete with water carriage. But, apart from commercial reasons, it has been urged that the construction of this line is necessary upon national grounds, for defence purposes. It seems to me that, from a defence stand-point, there is a much greater need for building the other transcontinental railway, to enable us to successfully defend the northern portion of this continent.
– The honorable senator will oppose that railway, too.
- Senator W. Russell has no justification for that statement. It is true that I have opposed various propositions which have been presented to the Senate. But upon every occasion that the Northern Territory Transfer Bill was brought forward, it contained extraneous matter which had nothing whatever to do with that Territory. There is little doubt that no South Australian Government would consent to the construction of the line which is now under consideration, were it not for the disgraceful bargain which was made when the Northern Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth. Even now it is extremely doubtful whether we shall obtain the consent of the South Australian Government to its construction. We are being coolly asked to sanction the building of it, notwithstanding that we have not a scintilla of authority to proceed with it.
– Has the honorable senator forgotten the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act?
– Can the honorable senator assure me that the Government seriously propose to adopt the course of compulsorily purchasing the required land?
– I do not think that there will be any need for them to do so.
– If we attempt to build a railway through a State without the consent of that State, and despite the provision which is contained in the Constitution, we shall be up against a very serious proposition.
– The honorable senator need not be alarmed about that.
– Reading between the lines of recent utterances by the head of the South Australian Government, it seems to me extremely doubtful. Before any facilities are granted to us to build the proposed line, he appears determined to exact from the Commonwealth such terms as he may think fit.
– Where did the honorable senator read that?
– If Senator W. Russell be right, and the consent of South Australia can be easily obtained, it might have been here now.
– Undoubtedly. If we are so well assured that we can get that consent, why does the Bill contain a provision that the construction of the line shall not be proceeded with in its absence? Will Senator W. Russell tell me that? Some authorities have declared that the proposed railway will be too far inland to be of the best use for defence purposes, and that it will traverse such barren country that it will prove unnecessarily expensive for the transport of troops and horses.
– Who says that?
– The statement is made in a circular which was received by the honorable senator in common with other honorable senators.
– Who is the writer of the circular, and is he angry because the line will not go through his backyard ?
– The honorable senator is supporting this Bill because he thinks the railway will go through his backyard. On the other hand it has been urged that the route of the proposed line is not sufficiently far inland and that the railway could easily be seized by a raiding enemy. As against these statements we have no information as to what the military authorities themselves think. From a defence point of view the proposal seems to have received no consideration. I am not a military expert, but as we pay very high salaries to responsible military officials, the least the Government could have done was to obtain a report from those officials as to the best route for the line to follow. Practically we have been presented with a blank sheet of paper in this respect. Personally, I do not know whether the line will be too far inland to be of the best use for defence purposes, and, so far as any light or guidance on the matter is concerned, I am destined to remain in ignorance for a very long time. The whole of the people of Australia are to be called upon to defray the cost of this railway, and if it is to be constructed for developmental purposes, I say that the States which are most intimately concerned should build it themselves. If its object be to settle people on the land, Western Australia and South Australia alone will derive all the benefit. Consequently, they should undertake the responsibility of constructing the line. But if, on the other hand, it is to be built for defence purposes, I admit that the whole of Australia should bear the burden. I go further, and say that if for defence purposes the Commonwealth is to saddle itself with such a huge responsibility, it should go in for a comprehensive policy of defence by protecting the other outlying portions of Australia. The northern half of this continent is absolutely unconnected with the rest of Australia by railway. The whole of the country extending from Rockhampton on the east coast to Geraldton on the west coast is unconnected with other portions of the continent.
– That statement is incorrect. There is a railway at Pilbarra.
– Is it connected with Fremantle and Perth?
– We have railways in the northern portion of Queensland, but they are unconnected with our southern railway systems. The fact remains that if we draw a line from Rockhampton, in Queensland, to the most northern railway connexion with Perth, in Western Australia, nearly, one-half of this continent will remain unconnected by railway with the southern half. We have no proposal from the Commonwealth to engage in the construction of railways for either the development or the defence of that country. Yet it is just as necessary that it should be defended as that the southern portion along the Bight should be defended. We have no comprehensive policy at all. We are asked to build a railway at a cost of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 merely to placate the propertyowners in Perth and Fremantle.
– Nothing of the sort.
– As I have shown, the railway to serve the gold-fields is a railway to Esperance Bay. Does any one think that the working miners, if they were coming to the east, could afford to pay the expensive fares which must necessarily be charged if the proposed line were built? They could get much cheaper and much more comfortable travelling by boat than they could by travelling in a train across hot dusty plains. I know that ninetenths of the passengers coming down from Queensland to Sydney and Melbourne, although they have first-rate railway accommodation, travel as a matter of choice, and also as a matter of economy, By steamer. It is only wealthy persons and the commercial classes, to whom quick travelling is an absolute necessity, who travel by railway. If I, as a member of this Parliament, had a -choice, I should prefer always to travel by sea. We are told a great deal about the probable earning capacity of this line. But I would point out that the estimate of Mr. Moncrieff, the Railway Commissioner of South Australia, seems to be based altogether on a fallacy. He itemizes the probable revenue, and includes “passengers, first class, 2,080 returns at five-sixths of £r2, the through fare, Adelaide to Kalgoorlie, £20,800.” He evidently bases his estimate upon- the railway being able to carry passengers at a cheaper rate than the steamers carry them at the present time. But that is impossible. It has been proved by the experience of the world that a railway cannot carry passengers or goods so cheaply as steamers ‘can. When people have the alternative of travelling by rail or by steamer from the west to the east, is it not more than probable- nay, is it not almost certain - that the steamers will reduce their fares, so as to offer greater inducements to persons to travel by water rather than by land? That is as certain as that the sun will rise to-morrow.
– That would not be a bad thing for Australia.
– Certainly it would not. It is the States that will reap the benefit which should pay the piper, rather than the rest of Australia.
– Will not that be a distinct benefit to the poor miner, who cannot afford to travel by railway?
– Yes, but the poor miner in Queensland, who will derive no such advantage, will have to pay. We in Queensland have borrowed pretty well the highest amount per head of any people in
Australia. Our public indebtedness amounts to about £75 per head of the population. That money has been borrowed mainly for the purpose of building railways in the State. We have built railways which for years did not pay, mainly for the purpose of developing and opening up the country. We have paid the interest year after year, and extinguished accumulated deficits. I am glad to say that most of these lines are now paying, but it has been a long up-hill struggle. We have saddled ourselves probably with the greatest debt per head of any people in Australia, and now we are coolly asked to assist in finding money to build railways for other States which pride themselves on being the richest States in the Commonwealth. That is an unfair proposition. The one justification which there may be for this proposal is from the defence point of view. But we have no information from the Defence Department or its responsible officers as to whether this is the worst or the best or the most indifferent route which could be chosen. . We have no light or guidance from them in any respect. When this estimate of revenue was framed there was no certainty that the railway from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay would be built. But now we are told by the Minister of Defence that it is a certainty that it will be built. In that case, this estimate is not worth the paper on which it is written, because the building of that line will take away nine- tenths of the inducements to people to travel by train from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and also ninetenths of the incentive to get goods carried over that long route. I am not very much inclined to cavil at the revenue which is expected to be. derived from the carriage of parcels and mails and from other coaching earnings, but I notice that, according to this estimate, it is proposed to carry 3,000 tons of hay, chaff, and other fodder for 1,100 miles at eleven-twelfths of £2 16s. per ton. Apparently they propose to carry these goods more cheaply than the steamers do. That estimate will not hold water for a moment. No railway can possibly hope to compete against a steamer. The statement that they can carry hay, chaff, and other fodder - bulky stuff - along a railway more cheaply than it could be carried by a steamer is one to which I think no one who is acquainted with traffic conditions in Australia will subscribe. Therefore I claim that this estimate of probable earnings, especially in view of the fact that it is now proposed to build a railway from
Esperance Bay to Kalgoorlie, is not worth! the paper on which it is written. But even supposing that the estimate was true, what are the facts? According to the most favorable estimate of the earnings of the railway the Commonwealth will be saddled with the loss of £70,000 per annum. That may be all very well while we have a bounding revenue; but we are not at all certain that it is going to continue. From my point of view, it would not be good if it did continue, because I consider that we are getting far too much from theCustoms House. If we had a proper Protective Tariff, we should get far less revenue from that source. We may have such a Tariff in the course of a few years, and then we shall have very much less revenue. While an annual deficit of £70,000 may not be a serious matter now, in the future, when, perhaps, we would not be blest with such good seasons as we have, when our Customs revenue would not be so buoyant as it is, when Australia would, perhaps, begin to manufacture more, and consequently to import less, it might be a very serious matter indeed.
– The increase of wear and tear will go on all the time.
– I think it is wisely proposed by the Government, and I hope that they will carry out their proposal, to provide a proper sinking and depreciation fund for all public works. If that is done, renewals will not burden us very much. I am not inclined to take a serious view of that aspect; but I think that, even in the most favorable circumstances, while we may very readily afford £70,000 a year for a luxury of this kind in good times, it would be a very serious burden in badtimes. I am against the Bill at the present time for more than one reason. I am against it because it is brought forward in a rushed and hurried fashion, without sufficient information being placed before us. This is the first time in my experience, and in my reading of the procedure in other Parliaments, that I have heard, or known, of a Bill being brought down on such’ meagre information.
– And you have been discussing it for the last eight years.
– We have never had anything to discuss. Every time I have been asked in another Parliament to authorize the construction of a railway, its members had every possible information placed before them. The plans, sections, and books of reference were tabled ; the exact route of the line was denned ; every yard of earthwork and embankment, and every yard of excavation, or a cutting, was worked out to a nicety ; every culvert, every bridge, in fact, everything connected with the line, was shown. But in this case nothing is shown. No permanent survey has been made; the Government is establishing an exceedingly bad precedent, and one which we on this side may have bitter reason to regret in years to come. Therefore, I think that we should not sanction the proposal. I am also against the Bill because I think that if the line is to . be built mainly for developmental purposes, the two States which are to reap all the benefit should engage in the enterprise, and not ask the Commonwealth to bear the expense.
– Just so. You are against the proposal because you have been against it all the time, and that will <lo.
– The honorable senatorknows very well that I have never met this project with two faces.
– That is right ; but you have always been against it.
– I have been against the wealthiest State in the Commonwealth coming cap in hand as a mendicant to the other States to build its railway, while those States have as much as they can do to build their own lines. If we can afford to spend £4,000^000 or £5,000,000 for developmental purposes, we can spend the money in a much better way. In Australia there are hundreds of places which would give us infinitely greater returns, which would provide openings for one hundred times the population which the country to be traversed by this railway will be able to carry. Why should we not spend our money where it will give us the best return ? After all, if the line is to be built for defence purposes, I am prepared to say that it would be better for us to spend £5,000,000 in getting another 100,000 persons settled In Australia. That would be a Setter means of defence than the construction of a railway. Our first need, from the defence point of view, is a bigger population, one from which we could draw a large and sturdy manhood in the hour of danger. I think that no foreign nation would dare to attack us if we had a population of 10,000,000 or 15,000,000. From any point of view, it would be a waste of money to build the railway; and I am against the second reading of the Bill, and will vote accordingly.
.. - I had the honour of being a member of the Senate some years ago when the proposal was first brought down to appropriate £20,000 for the survey of a railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. On that occasion, and also on a subsequent occasion, I voted against that proposal on what seemed to me to be an absolutely fair ground, namely, as each State had incurred a large portion of its public debt for the building of railways, it was too big a request to ask the people of all the States to pay their share of £20,000 to survey a route for a transcontinental line. I contended that if Western Australia and South Australia considered that the proposed railway was necessary, they should at least be prepared to find the sum of £20,000 for the purpose of surveying a route. Then, the survey having been completed, if it “were shown that the loss during the first few years of the railway’s existence would not be too great, those States would have very fair grounds - or, at least, some justification - for coming to the Commonwealth to finance the proposition. On the two occasions when the proposal was before the Senate I voted against it. I held consistently to the opinion that we were not justified in assenting to it. However, I had to bow to the will of the majority. Ultimately the £20,000 was voted. The survey was made. As a Tasmanian, I may be given credit for approaching this question entirely free from State prejudice. It does not affect us, except that we shall have to bear our share of the cost. The view which I put before the people of Tasmania during the discussion on the survey was that the two States concerned should collect the data, and then, if they could show that the railway would be a paying concern, or that the loss would not be too great, they might come to the Federal Parliament with a proposition. I have held that view right up to the commencement of this session. But a new situation was presented to us when the Minister of Defence brought in this Bill. This new phase entirely changed the aspect. I will’ show why. It is generally understood that, at some time or other, the trunk lines which, link up the big centres from one end of Australia to the other must have ‘their gauges standardized. Who is going to bear the cost of conversion? Is it to be borne by the particular States whose gauges have to be altered, or will the cost have to be shared by the whole of the people of Australia ?
– That question should be settled now.
– It would have been tar better if the Government had been in a position to settle it now. At present, however, we are in the peculiar situation ot proposing to build a railway through two States, one of which does not appear to want it. It .seems to me that South Australia is reluctant. She does not want the railway.
– She does.
– 1 am glad to be corrected if my statement is not justifiable. But if we are to listen to some of the speeches or interjections, or to the generally known opinions of some South Australians in this Parliament and elsewhere, we must be led to the conclusion that the people of South Australia are not quite so keen about this railway as are the people of Western Australia.
– Hear, hear !
– If that be so, the position is that we are asked to spend about £4,000,000 on a huge public work which is to be of direct benefit to two States, one of which does not want it. Can we, as the custodians of the interests of all Australia, hold our hand until the State which now does not seem very anxious falls into line with the other State which is? I have said that there is a phase of the situation which has not yet been presented to the Senate, and which appeals to me with peculiar force. It is this : If the cost of standardizing trunk lines throughout Australia is to be borne by the whole of the people on a per capita basis, or even if the Commonwealth pays half the cost, this Parliament will have to vote a very large sum of money. Until recently I held the view that Western Australia should bear more than her per capita proportion of the cost of the railway now under consideration, seeing that she would derive the greatest share of the direct benefit from it, and that South Australia should also bear more than her per capita share, because she will derive a large amount of direct benefit, though not so large as that of Western Australia. But Western Australia now comes down with a proposal relating to the standardization of gauges, which seems to me to be fairly generous. She agrees to bear the whole cost of converting her own 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, over 380 miles, to a 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge.
– Has the Western Australian Parliament decided on that?
– I understood, from the speech of the Minister of Defence, that that was the general understanding.
– Would the honorable senator vote ,£4,000,000 of money on an “ understanding “ ?
– I am quite prepared to insert that provision in the Bill.
– The next Ministry might repudiate the understanding.
– That could not be done if the condition were put in the Bill. A rough estimate has been made of the cost of converting the 380 miles of Western Australian railway. The estimate is £2,000 per mile, making £760,000 cost of conversion, with £100,000 for extras. That makes the total cost £860,000. Now, Western Australia contains only about onefifteenth of the total population of Australia.
– Where is that estimate obtained from?
– I obtained the estimate from the Engineering Department of the Commonwealth. It is not an official document. I am told that £2,000 per mile is a fair estimate. It must be remembered that there is a tunnel if miles long, mostly through granite rock, which is very expensive to work. Western Australia, therefore, is offering to spend ,£860,000 on conversion work. Her per capita share of the total conversion for Australia would amount to much less than that - indeed, to less than half. There is no estimate in existence of the total cost of converting Australian trunk lines to a gauge of 4 ft. 8 *</inline> in. ; but if we adopt the estimate of £2,000 a mile, which may be assumed to be roughly correct, it will be seen that Western Australia is offering to bear more than her share of the total cost. Opinions seem to be unanimous that, from a defence point of view, it will be necessary at some time or other to adopt a uniform gauge. If Western Australia were asked to bear her
– The honorable senator’s estimate does not include the expense of providing new rolling-stock for the wider gauge.
– I quite admit that. I had the idea that before the
Federal Parliament should be called upon to appropriate the money necessary for the construction of this line, the two States specially interested should guarantee to meet all the loss, or at least half the loss, of the working of the line for the first ten years. However, last year the defence aspect of the question assumed serious proportions. After Lord Kitchener’s visit to Australia, a number of people who had not. considered that aspect of the matter seriously gave it a great deal more attention.
– If the working of the line showed a profit within the first ten years, would the honorable senator suggest that South Australia and Western Australia should receive half that profit?
– Perhaps the honorable senator will allow me to proceed with my argument. In the event of this line being constructed for £4,000,000-
– Does the honorable senator believe for a moment that that will be all that it will cost? If he does, he must be very credulous.
– I do not know what data Senator Sayers may have to go upon to form an estimate of the cost, but, judging from the little experience I have had of the cost of railways in a State where railway construction is perhaps more expensive than in any other State of the Union, it does not seem to me that the cost of this railway has been very much underestimated. The engineers should be able to give us a good approximate estimate of the cost, but I admit that we must be very much in the dark, and that the estimate must be, to some extent, a haphazard one. The estimated loss on the line for the first year is £68,852. Assuming that it will be £70,000, and that the loss will be the same for the first ten years, I have always believed that it is a fair proposal to suggest that one-half of thatloss should be borne by the two States directly interested. And since the defence aspect of the question has assumed serious proportions, I believe that it would not be unreasonable for the whole of the Commonwealth to bear the other half of the loss.
– Does the honorable senator wish to put that in the Bill?
– Assuming that the loss on the line for the first ten years would amount to £700,000, and half of that were to be borne by South Australia and Western Australia, they would require to provide £350,000 during the first ten years. In the circumstances, it must be clear that Western Australia, with her handful of population, is making a fairly generous offer in undertaking to spend something like £860,000 in meeting the cost of the conversion of her lines to the standard gauge. In the circumstances, Western Australia makes out a fairly good case for asking the Commonwealth to undertake the construction of this line, assuming its construction to be necessary at all.
– Western Australia offered to build the line herself.
– It would be of no use for Western Australia to build the line to the border of South Australia if South Australia refused to make the connexion with her lines. If it is agreed that the line is necessary from a defence point of view, we have to put from our minds the question of how this proposal will affect any particular State, or how expenditure may bear unfairly on one State while benefiting another. If this proposal were put forward only from a commercial point of view, I should say that South Australia and Western Australia would have’ no justification for asking that the Commonwealth should bear the whole cost of the undertaking. My own State will receive no direct benefit from the construction of this line. I point out that other proposals have been before the Senate involving huge expenditure from which the State I represent will derive no direct benefit. If we are to look at this matter from the narrow and provincial point of view, and say that the other States will have ground for complaint if this money is spent within the borders of Western Australia and South Australia, I should like to remind honorable senators that there is another State within whose borders very heavy Commonwealth expenditure will take place in a few years in the establishment of the Federal Capital. That is New SouthWales’ good fortune under the Federal compact.
– But that money will be spent in Federal territory.
– That is so, but that territory will be surrounded byNew South Wales territory. Another State has had a very large amount of Commonwealth money spent within it to keep a certain industry going with white labour. That happens to be the good fortune of Queensland. I have never objected to that expenditure, because I considered it necessary from _ a national stand-point. The State. ;from which I come derives no benefit from- the.,, vast expenditure incurred to assist that industry in the northern State.
– Is there not a duty of 2d. per lb. on jam?
– I am not allowed to go into that question.
– The honorable senator could go into the question of the sugar industry.
– I know that the President would not permit me to make more than a passing reference to a matter of that kind in order to illustrate my argument. A measure was passed last session in this Parliament which conferred considerable direct benefit on the State of South Australia in relieving her of an incubus she had been carrying for many years. I refer to the Bill for the transfer of the Northern Territory. That was the good fortune of South Australia.
– What does Tasmania want?
– Tasmania wants her rights, and I hope she will get them. I feel satisfied that even Senator Stewart, who is ordinarily so cautious about expenditure, will not deny justice to Tasmania when the time comes to ask for it.
– I hope not, but that is all she will get from me. She will get no charity.
– When that matter is before the Senate it will be time enough to discuss it, and I can assure Senator Stewart that we shall ask only for justice for Tasmania. I have referred to three of the States in which there has been, or will be, immense Commonwealth expenditure from which Tasmania derives no direct benefit. It has always seemed to me that the two States through which this railway will pass will be in a remarkably fortunate position in having it paid for by the whole of the taxpayers of Australia when_those resident in other States have had to bear the burden of the debts incurred for the building of their own railway. But there are higher considerations than State rights, and above them all is the national safety of Australia. I say that it is necessary to link up the populous portion of Western Australia with the populous centres of the eastern States by rail, as well as by water, so that should it be necessary Western Australia may receive the assistance of troops from the eastern States of the Common wealth. Some one has said that, even if this line were constructed, no one would travel by it so long as a good line of steamers was plying along our coasts. I think that a very large proportion of the travelling public who have had the bitter experience of crossing the AustralianBight in rough weather may take a different view.
– I have had that experience, and it is a splendid trip.
– The honorable senator is very fortunate in that respect. I was opposed to this railway in the beginning, but I have since crossed the Australian Bight twice, and my experience was such that I gave up everything, even my opposition to this railway. I do not agree with Senator Givens’ prophecy, that, if this railway is constructed, the men -on the mining fields of Western Australia will not travel by it when they might go to Esperance Bay, and from there to the eastern States by steamer. My own experience is that all classes of the community prefer to travel by rail rather than by water, especially when they have to encounter such rough weather as is often experienced in the Great Australian Bight. The argument which was advanced by Senator Givens tonight was used in Tasmania years ago, when it was proposed to construct a railway to link up the mining fields of that State with its capital. It was then urged that the undertaking would never pay ; that the ordinary traveller would not be able to pay the fare; and that, consequently he would travel round the coast by steamer.
– Most people do so now.
– No. Year by year the railway traffic has increased, until to-day there may be one, or possibly two, vessels per week leaving Hobart for the West Coast of Tasmania, and carrying, at the most, some ten or a dozen passengers. Why? Simply because the great majority of the people prefer to travel by rail rather than by boat, although it is twice as costly. I feel sure that the same result will follow the construction of the proposed transcontinental line. A very large proportion of the travelling public will scout the idea of journeying between Fremantle and Adelaide, even by the floating palaces which are engaged upon that route, when they have anopportunity to travel by rail. During the course of this debate much has been said as to the character of the country which the* proposed line will traverse. But I do not think that any of us are sufficiently acquainted with that country to speak of it from personal knowledge. In the speech which he delivered in moving the second reading of this Bill, the Minister of Defence gave us a good deal of valuable information. He presented a very rosy picture of the water possibilities along the line of route, and, perhaps, he can tell me who is the author of a document which has been circulated amongst honorable senators by a person named Thomas Harry, who entertains an entirely different view. ‘That gentleman says -
I take the liberty of enclosing copy of a letter from Mr. George W. Murray, one of the few men who have any considerable knowledge of the country lying between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. Eastwards from Kalgoorlie, and westward and north-westward from Port Augusta, I have some acquaintance wilh it myself, and I would respectfully point out : -
He encloses a letter from Thomas Murray, who is a prospector of considerable knowledge and experience. Mr. Murray writes -
Having some considerable personal knowledge of the country lying between Port Augusta and the Western Australian boundary, I would like to point out how the conditions of that country affect the consideration of the route selected for the preliminary survey, and generally underStood to be the route which it is proposed eventually to follow. Fifty miles beyond Tarcoola the desert commences, and extends right up to and beyond the border. There is no feed, and a rainfall of about 4 inches only. Therefore no one will take up the country for stock, and there are no mineral indications of any value. It has been urged in favour of the route that it would help to develop the mineralized district of Tarcoola itself. But if that object is of a substantial character it would be better to attain it bv a special line to Tarcoola from Port Augusta or from Murat Bay - 130 miles distant. The water difficulty by “the proposed route will be enormous. Out of six bores put down by the Government on Nullarbor Plains, not one has yielded water suitable for human consumption, or for locomotive purposes, and only two produce a supply which is’ passable for stock. On the other hand, a line which bore more southerly from Port Augusta throughthe Gawler Ranges would traverse alotofgood farming and pastoral country around Chandada. It could then take the place of the Port Lincoln line from Chandada to west of Fowler’s Bay, say, 250 miles. A great and permanent advantage of the route I propose is that it would be 60 miles shorter than the surveyed line. That is an important matter when we consider the initial cost of construction of 60 miles of railway. Not only has the interest on that cost to be borne for ever, but every passenger and ton of goods for all time has to pay for 60 miles of unnecessary haulage. When conveying troops the time thereby lost, quite apart from the mere cost, might be serious. By the official route 60 miles of loose drifting sand hills have to be crossed, involving permanent cost in keeping the line clear for traffic. I have been over the coastal country from Chandada to Belladonna. Of this, 250 miles is good farming country, and the rest good grazing land. Again, I have several times travelled inland over the country which the official route traverses, and I have seen nothing worth occupying. It was stated before a Commission which inquired into the matter that within South Australian territory the official route would serve country that would carry three million sheep ! From my personal knowledge of it I am convinced, as a practical man, that within the next half century it will never carry 30,000.
I should like to know who this gentleman is, and whether he is able to speak with any authority, seeing that his statements so directly conflict with those of the Minister in respect of the water possibilities along the route of the proposed line.
– My statements are based upon analyses of the water obtained from bores, and the flow from those bores has been tested by mechanical instruments.
– Possibly the Minister’s statements were based upon data which have been collected since this gentleman obtained his information.
– What does he say he is willing to do at his own cost ?
– He says-
Before the Commonwealth is finally committed to such a vast undertaking I would urge that a survey of the coastal and shorter route from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta be made, and should be accompanied by a detailed report of the value and prospects of that country as compared with those of the official line. Apart from the saving of distance, Eucla would furnish a permanent base from which coal and construction materials could be supplied to the coastal line. Every ton of coal for the official line must behauled over the railway either from the Kalgoorlie or the Port Augusta end. There is a considerable extent of country west of Fowler’s Bay fit for farming, but if it is to be profitably occupied for agriculture a railway to serve it must eventually be provided. The whole of the Commonwealth is undoubtedly interested in getting absolutely the best route. To support my statements, I will drive any official deputed by the Federal Government to inspect the route and report, free of cost, from Tarcoola to the Western Australian border.
That seems a very fair offer ; and if I were controlling the Department of Home Affairs I should feel inclined to take him at his word.
– As a matter of fact, he did drive Mr. Deane over the route of which he speaks, but Mr. Deane’s report was not suitable to him.
– That puts a different aspect on the matter. A great deal of the controversy over this Bill has ranged round the question of the width of gauge. Personally, I do not profess to know which is the most suitable gauge for us to adopt, and consequently I have to fall back upon the best expert advice that I can obtain. That advice is that the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge is most suited to our requirements. It has been said that it would be better to defer the construction of this line for another year, until more information can be collected regarding the gauge which we should adopt. It has also been suggested that that information can be obtained from a Conference of Premiers.
– They would have their experts to advise them.
– My reply is that we already have the advice of the experts whose opinions the Premiers would be able to quote.
– We have had the opinions of five Engineers-in-Chief of the different States, who made a unanimous recommendation.
– No; Mr. Moncrieff, of South Australia, was opposed to the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
– Even assuming that Senator McColl’s contention be correct, there are still four Engineers-in-Chief who favour the adoption of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge.
– We have more modern men now.
– The Conference of Engineers-in-Chief did not take place a long time ago. If I entertained the slightest doubt as to the correctness of the Ministerial attitude in respect to the width of gauge, I should say, “ Let us wait twelve months rather than make a mistake.” But the Ministry are just as anxious-
– To get the Bill passed.
– I do not think that Senator Sayers should take that view. He cannot charge the Government with any anxiety to commit this country to an expenditure of £4,000,000 simply for the purpose of getting the Bill through.
– The whole thing is a farce.
– The honorable senator is. one of the doubting Thomases of this Chamber. He believes in nothing. All the experts under Heaven would fail to satisfy him. I do not think for a moment that any Ministry in charge of the finances of this country would dream of submitting a measure authorizing the construction of a railway, and involving the expenditure of £4,000,000, and tying themselves down to the adoption of a particular gauge, unless they felt absolutely satisfied, from the best expert knowledge at their command, that it was the gauge most suited for the work.
– In another place they refused an inquiry.
– A good ground was given by the Government for that re fusal, namely, that they had all the information which they could get from experts. Delay has been asked for in order to hold a conference of State Premiers. Now what would be the value of such a conference? The State Premiers would only call to their assistance the very men who have practically decided unanimously in favour of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. If any member of this Parliament believes, as I do, that, for a century to come, the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge will be sufficiently wide, there is a very big consideration which must come in, and that is the difference in the cost of construction. We know perfectly well, especially when we get into mountainous country, that when it is a matter of enlarging tunnels from the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, the question of cost is a very serious one indeed. If it is a case of converting from the latter gauge to the former, the cost’ of extra embankments, tunnels, new sleepers, &c, is avoided. But if it is a case of converting from the narrow gauge to the broad gauge, it means the use of new sleepers. That would be a considerable item in the cost of conversion in Australia. No one argues that there will not be a large saving effected by adopting the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge for the proposed railway. As regards the earning capacity of the line we must necessarily be in the dark. We cannot foretell what it may earn during the next 5 or 10 or 15 years. We can only hope that the annual loss will not be too great. If we could think, and after all this is not a very extravagant effort of imagination, that the construction of the railway might lead to the discovery of only one payable mining field, a large part of the expenditure would be justified.
– Oh, dear !
– Again we have our old doubting Thomas scouting the idea that the construction of a railway over 1,100 miles of country, a great portion of which has never felt the touch of a white man’s foot-
– We have done that in Queensland.
– The honorable senator has been scouting the idea that with the opening upof this new country there is not the possibility of the discovery of new mining fields. I am sure that he does not believe that. He must know perfectly well that there is a big possibility that the building of the line may lead to the discovery of new mining fields, apart from the possibilities which were outlined in a moderate way by the Minister of Defence - the possibilities of pastoral settlement.
– No possibility whatever.
– The reason why I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill-
– Tasmania is going to be squared directly.
– That is unworthy of Senator Stewart.
– We know that Senator Stewart has just returned from a tour round the world, that his views have been expanded, and that he is trying to look at this proposal in a very large way. He does not really mean what hesays. The main reason why I intend to support the second reading of this Bill is the reason why I voted last session for another big proposal involving a very large expenditure, and one which will certainly bring no direct benefit to Tasmania, which, of course, will have to bear its share of the cost of taking over and administering the Northern Territory. My main reason is that from the defence point of view transcontinental railways should be built, not only from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, but also through the Northern Territory.
– You are going to get the surplus; it is all right.
– Order ! I must ask Senator Stewart to stop this continual flow of interjections.
– We have all heard the story of the gentleman who said, “Bang went saxpence.” Senator Stewart must have spent a few more “ saxpences “ than he intended to spend, and that has put him into an extraordinarily cautious frame of mind. He has been worrying about the “ saxpences “ he spent on his tour, and therefore he does not like the idea of the Commonwealth incurring any expenditure. There are many members of this Parliament who look rather askance at the big expenditure to which we committed ourselves last year, and to which we shall commit ourselves during the next few years, in connexion with another proposal which must come forward.
– We will fight that, too.
– Probably within the next two or three years we shall be asked to sanction the construction of a transcontinental railway through the Northern Territory to link up that undefended portion of Australia which is a menace to the national safety so long as it lies empty. We shall have to vote for that expenditure when the proper time comes. As a matter of fact, I do not know whether that proposal should not have preceded this proposal. I am inclined to think that at least they should have come forward at the same time, but I suppose that in one session it would have been rather too much to ask the public to swallow two railways of these gigantic proportions, involving an enormous expenditure. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, hoping that in Committee it may be made, perhaps, more perfect than it is. I am quite open to conviction, and to consider on its merits any amendment which may be moved. I am not tied to the measure in its present form. Senator Walker has outlined an amendment to introduce the land grant principle. I do not know that the land would be ot very much more value to the Commonwealth than it is to the two States if it is such a sandy desert waste as honorable senators opposite say it is. I believe that the construction of this railway is necessary in the interest of the defence of Australia. I put that reason far and away above any question of State rights, any question of expenditure which has to be incurred, or any question of the direct benefit which is to be received by certain States owing to the expenditure of public money within their boundaries.
– I do not wish to traverse ground which has been covered by previous speakers. We have had a pretty long and exhaustive debate. Still, I think it must be admitted that this proposal is unique, because it marks a new departure. It has been pointed out that, at its own cost, South Australia built its railway from Adelaide to Serviceton ; that Victoria built its railway from Serviceton to Albury, and so on. The States have built their railways at their own expense, and run them in their own way. This is a proposal altogether distinct, and commits the Commonwealth to the construction and working of a railway on its own account. The reasons advanced for its construction are various. With regard to the matter of defence : I may be a heretic or an atheist, but I do not look upon this line as worth anything from the defence point of view. I do not think that any European nation will ever come into Australia with the idea of conquest. I do not think that Australia, if conquered, would be of any value to a European nation. I believe that that position is generally realized just now.
– What sort of a country have we got, anyhow?
– I ask the honorable senator to consider whether it would be worth while for any European nation to endeavour simply to conquer this country. I admit that perhaps a European nation might come here at some time for the purpose of loot - to raid a city like Sydney or Melbourne, and to take away in a very short time all the valuables which they could lay their hands on. But the proposed railway would not be of any use in a case of that sort.
– If this country is not worth fighting for, it is the only country in the world which has ever been known not to be worth fighting for.
– I did not say that Australia is not worth fighting for. Now, what actual gain would it be to a European nation to conquer Australia? I think that the feeling is growing pretty well the world over that, looked at from an economical point of view, war is altogether a failure.
– Is not the best guarantee of peace preparedness for war?
– That is a truism.
– The honorable senator’s opinion was not shared last night in the House of Commons.
– That was a very different position from ours.
– People in England think their country worth fighting for.
– I never said that Australia was not worth fighting for; and _ I do not want such words to be put into my mouth.
– The honorable senator put them into his own mouth.
– I made no such statement. While I do not think that any European Power will come here with the object of taking possession of the country, I do think that there is a danger from the yellow races, against which we must protect ourselves. But, at the same time, the part of the country which they will look towards is the Northern Territory, and the north-west coast, where we have no population, and to which this railway will afford no assistance in reference to the conveyance of troops. The best means of protecting that part of our country is to put people there as fast as we can. Effective occupation will be the best possible defence. Military people may hold a different view ; but my opinion is that any other means of defence will never be of any use to us.
– If we put people there, how could we send troops to defend them in case of attack ?
– This line will be of no advantage in case of invasion of the Northern Territory or the north-west part of Australia.
– I suppose the honorable senator has information that Asiatics will not attack Western Australia?
– I admit that there is a danger there ; but I do not believe that this line will be of any use from a defence point of view. There is, however, what may be called a sentimental reason for linking up the capital of Western Australia with the other capitals of the Commonwealth. I also think it to be perfectly true that if Western Australia had not believed that this line was going to be built, she would not have come into the Federation. Statements were made to influence the vote of Western Australia. I admit that Mr. Kingston urged that this line should be built. But it must not be forgotten that he laid it down as a condition that a railway from the gold-fields to Esperance Bay should also be constructed. I understand that the Western Australian Government have already decided to make that line. In that respect, therefore, the Western Australian promise has been fulfilled. She has, consequently, a claim for the construction of the railway under consideration. But I am satisfied that if the Commonwealth were to say to the two States, Western Australia and South Australia, “ If you want railway communication, you must make it yourselves,” the line would not be built for the next quarter of a century. South Australia would look upon it from a commercial stand-point. She would say, “ Will it pay? If not, we will not lay the burden upon us.” One reason why the present route has been adopted is that South Australia thought that if the line went to Tarcoola it might lead to a good deal 6f mineral development in that part of the country. But what 1 complain of is that we are practically taking a leap in the dark, signing a blank cheque, and handing the matter over to the Government without any information such as we ought to have regarding the railway. We have no plans, no books of reference.
– That is not correct. We have the plans.
– Are they here?
– There are over 1,000 yards of plans. The table of the Senate would not hold them.
– What do the State Governments do with regard to their railways ?
– They do not lay plans on the table.
– Are not plans usually reduced, lithographed, and circulated ?
– The whole of the plans are in the Home Affairs Department, where the honorable senator can see them.
– I do not suppose that the original plans of a projected railway would be laid upon the table in any House of Parliament, but reduced lithographic plans are produced to give members of Parliament some idea of the way in which a proposed line is going to run.
– If the honorable senator is satisfied that the plans are in existence, that ought to be enough. He can go and inspect them.
– We are not engineers. We are simply a body of laymen, and all the information that can be give? us ought to be furnished.
– What would be the use of the plans to us?
– They would not be looked at by one senator in ten.
– That is not saying much for the intelligence of honorable senators.
– We are not engineers.
– Any one can study a matter for himself.
– Does the honorable senator want us to get a lorry arid cart all the plans up here?
– That is not the only thing. We have not any of the details which we ought to have. In MrDeane’s report, he gives an estimate on the assumption that 70-lb. rails are to be used. Is that to be done?
– The estimate of cost of construction is based on the use of rails 70 lbs. to the yard. That is the present intention.
– I think the 70-lb. rail is altogether too light to carry a fast traffic such as we ought to have if this line is to carry mail trains. Such rails are out of date. Rails 70 and 75 lbs. to the yard are used on 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines.
– Express trains are running over 60-lb. rails.
– But they are being replaced with heavier rails.
– Sixty-pound rails are being replaced with heavier ones in Tasmania.
– It is not looked upon as safe to run very fast trains over light rails. I find also, according to one estimate, that the cost of the line is put down at ,£3,988,000. There is a revised estimate of £4,045,000. I do not know which the Government are going to adopt.
– In the absence of a regular survey of the line, any estimate of that kind must be a mere guess.
– The estimate of £4,000,000 is based upon a proper survey.
– No; it is riot. There has been no proper survey yet.
– At any rate, this railway is estimated to cost less than ^£4.000 per mile. I want to know how it is that this line is going to be constructed so very much cheaper th an any of the lines that have been built in the Commonwealth previously.
– There are 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge lines in New South Wales which cost only £2,800 per mile.
– I have before me a paper by Mr. Hales, who is said to be a man of great experience of railways in Tasmania and New Zealand, and who tells us that the 4-ft. 8^-in. lines in New South Wales cost £13,430 a mile. In Victoria, the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge lines have cost £12, 549 a mile. In South Australia, the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge lines have cost £.11,136 a mile.
– The lines in hilly country run up the average.
– The South Australian lines are not all in mountainous country. The 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines in South Australia have cost £5^92 a mile. None of those lines run through difficult country.
– The honorable senator knows that the narrow-gauge line from Port Pirie to Petersburg runs through very difficult country.
– I entirely differ from the honorable senator. The railway from Petersburg to Port Pirie follows the line of least resistance. It runs along the feet of the hills, and was built in that way purposely to keep down the cost.
– The line has been altered since it was built. The curves have been shortened.
– The South Australian Parliament said, when that line was under consideration, that unless it could be built for not more than £4,000 a mile, they would not authorize it. The engineers said, “ Very well, we will make it for £4,000 a mile by taking the line of least resistance.” Ever since then, they have been endevouring to cut off curves and remove corners so as to save a good deal of wear and tear.
– The cost of that work has been added to the cost of construction.
– -£101,000 has been added to the cost of construction.
– These figures are official. Mr. Hales would not risk his reputation by the publication of inaccurate figures. What object could he have in doing so? He is not a partisan. It does not matter a button to him whether this line is constructed or not. In South Australia the average cost for lines on the 3-ft.’ 6-in. gauge has been £5,899 per ‘mile. In the
Northern Territory the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway cost £8,111 per mile. In Queensland the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines have cost an average of £6,648 per mile. In Western Australia, the cost per mile has been lower than in any of the other States. The 3-ft. 6-in. lines there have cost £5)305 per mile. The 3-ft. 6-in. lines in Tasmania have cost £8,860 per mile. But here we are told that this line can be constructed on the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge for £4,000 per mile.
– What were the wages paid in the construction of the existing State lines, as compared with the wages which must be paid now ?
– The cost of railway construction twenty years ago was twice as much as it would be now.
– I take leave to doubt that statement. Mr. Deane admits that rails have gone up in value considerably, even since his first estimate of the cost of this line was made. He admits that material generally is continually going up in price, and no one will contend that if we ask men to go out into this barren country, hundreds of miles from civilization, they will not be justified in demanding a wage which will compensate them for the inconveniences and hardship they will be called on to endure.
– That has all been taken into consideration in the estimate of the cost.
– Mr. Deane’s estimate is that this line will cost a little under £4,000 per mile. He says -
This estimate throughout is based on the understanding that the best modern methods and mechanical appliances are to be used in carrying out all parts of the work.
Further, at page 13 of his report, he says, in regard to the method of construction -
The question whether the construction of the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway should be carried out by day labour or contract is one that will have to be decided by the Government.
There is no doubt that there are advantages in the contract system, as it relieves the Government and their official staff of much responsibility, and it secures, or should secure, that the cost of the work should be limited to a certain figure.
The advocates of the contract system put it in this way : -
The contractor can get better work out of the men than the Government official, because he is not so likely to be taken advantage of, nor would he be influenced by political pressure - there would, in fact, be no Government stroke. The Government would know from the start what the work would cost, whereas under the day labour method it would be impossible to foresee what the total expenditure would be.
I have had a great deal of experience in carrying out work by day labour, and have built several hundreds of miles of railways under that system for the New South Wales Government. At the start of that work the then Minister for Works undertook to give me a free hand in employing men, gangers, and foremen, and in ordering materials, and I can testify that under such conditions, and with competent men in charge, work can be carried out quite as economically as it is possible through a contractor.
I ask honorable senators to notice the conditions which Mr. Deane lays down - that the Minister shall undertake to give him a free hand in employing men, gangers, and foremen, and in ordering materials. Will the Government do this?
– Certainly; what else could they do?
– Unfortunately, Senator McDougall is not the Government.
– What did the honorable senator do as Commissioner of Public Works in South Australia?
– I always did the right thing, as Senator Guthrie should know.
SenatorGuthrie. - Did not the honorable senator” give the engineer in charge full power to employ men?
– Yes; he had full power to employ men.
– Why cannot the Commonwealth Government do the same thing ?
– If so, the Government will not mind my asking whether they intend to give Mr. Deane the same power in connexion with the construction of this railway as he was given by the New South Wales Government?
– The Commonwealth Government are following the same policy in connexion with their saddlery factory.
– It is very kind of Senator McDougall to answer for the Minister, but I notice that the Minister is silent on the point.
– I shall reply to the honorable senator.
– If the Minister of Defence intends to reserve this information for his reply to the debate, I suppose I must wait for it; but it would have been more convenient to me to have had the information immediately. The Government have not said that they have adopted Mr. Deane’s estimate, nor have they said that they intend to follow his method in the carrying out of the work. If the Minister is going to give an answer to my question in his speech in reply, I do not see why he did not give the information in moving the second reading of the Bill. It would have saved a good deal of discussion. Much time has been wasted because of lack of information supplied by the speech of the Minister in moving the second reading of the Bill.
– The honorable senator says that time has been wasted?
– I do; but I say that Ministers are responsible for it by neglecting to give necessary information.
– Then the honorable senator should not waste any more time.
– I shall have to answer to the electors of South Australia, who sent me here, and not to Senator Needham. If they think that I am not representing them properly, they will have the remedy in their own hands. I am not going to allow Senator Needham, or any one else, to be the judge of whether I am wasting time or not. I am following what I believe to be the right course, and I do not intend to be dictated to by any honorable senator. If Senator Needham does not desire that I should waste any more time, he had better cease his useless and silly interjections. I wish now to refer to the matter of the route. It demands very careful inquiry. What sort of country is this railway to traverse ? Is it country in which a sufficient water supply for the general working of the railway may be easily obtained? Senator O’ Keefe quoted from a letter by Mr. George Murray. I have no personal knowledge of that gentleman; but, so far as Mr. Harry is concerned, I think that he is, in this matter, representing some people on the western coast of South Australia who are deeply interested in this line. He is, I think, entitled to put their view of this proposal before the Senate. I do not know that any one can complain of his having done so. This is a big question, and if people hold strong opinions on it, I do not think that we should complain if they are submitted to the Senate for due consideration. I know Mr. Murray only by repute as one of the best-known and most highly-respected men on the west coast. He says in his letter -
Fifty miles from Tarcoola the desert commences and extends right up to and beyond the border. There is no feed and a rainfall of about 4 inches only. Therefore, no one will take up the country for stock, and there are no mineral indications of any value.
– That statement is flatly contradicted by the official report.
– I am not vouching for it. But it can be taken for what it is worth.
– What is Murray?
– He is a grazier and squatter, who has been in that country for a great many years.
– Does he own any land in the neighbourhood of the Gawler Ranges route ?
– I do not know. Even if he does, a man may give disinterested advice sometimes. He says further in this letter -
The water difficulty by the proposed route will be enormous. Out of six bores put down by the Government on Nullabor Plains not one has yielded water suitable for human consumption, or for locomotive purposes, and only two produce a supply which is passable for stock. On the other hand, a line which bore more southerly from Port Augusta through the Gawler Ranges would traverse a lot of good farming and pastoral country around Chandada.
He says, also -
Before the Commonwealth is finally committed to such a vast undertaking I would urge that a survey of the coastal and shorter route from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie should be made, and should be accompanied by a detailed report of the value and prospects of that country as compared with those of the official line.
There is nothing very extravagant about that letter. It bears on its face evidences of genuineness. Mr. Murray may not be altogether disinterested ; but I am not here to champion him. I am here to endeavour to get information about this proposal.
– What is the honorable senator’s opinion about the Tarcoola field - Is it worked out?
– I am coming to that directly. There is another statement published by a Mr. J. L. Higgins. He is a retired farmer now residing at Torrensville, one of the suburbs of Adelaide, and he has something to say regarding the rival routes for the proposed railway. This is part of what he says on the subject - “ On the surveyed route there is very little animal life, and the blacks have never occupied the country, except a few wretches nt Winbring. By following the surveyed route vid Tarcoola the line would pass through inferior country the whole distance, where there would be little chance of obtaining suitable water for steam purposes, and coal would have to be hauled either from Port Augusta or Western Australian ports. Great expenditure would be incurred in dealing with the sandhills between Tarcoola and the Nullabor Plains. If the route I suggest were taken good pastoral and agricultural land would be passed through the whole way, and as the rainfall is more re liable water for engine use could be conserved! anywhere along the line. With the exceptionof a few small creeks, no engineering difficulties would confront the railway builders. “ I suggest that the line should run from PortAugusta near to Yardea and continue in a. westerly direction, striking the route of the proposed State line from Minnipa Hill to Decres Bay, about midway between Wirrula Rockhole and Nunjicompita - about the eastern boundary of the hundred of Petina. My idea is that the Federal line should run through the hundred of Goode and near the Denial Bay mission station, continuing along the suggested route of the State line, past Wirilia tank, and north of Golona station. Then the line would enter the Nullabor Plains and traverse 200 miles of level country. The Hampton Plains in Western Australia would also be passed over. The other route does not touch those plains.”
-Colonel Cameron. - Is that route nearer the coast ?
– In the first part of his letter he says that no suitable water is obtainable on the Nullarbor Plains.
– The letter from which I have just been quoting is that from Mr. Higgins, who says - “ If the route I propose is adopted it will only be necessary for South Australia to continue the line fromMinnipa Hill to junction with the overland line at the hundred of Petina. The Federal line, however, would save to the Stale the construction of from 150 to 200 miles of line. There would be paying traffic for the Federal line from this district, and the route I propose to the West is67½ miles shorter than the one that has been surveyed. If the southern line would be the shortest, cheapest to maintain, and the less expensive to construct, and would return more revenue, it should be adopted. If the Federal Government constructed the line right through, the State could run light lines out where production warranted the outlay. I believe the State Government will eventually conserve water in the Gawler Ranges somewhere in the vicinity of Kondoolka to supply Decres Bay and the surrounding country, in which case there would be no difficulty in supplying water for railway purposes. Although this has been a dry season in the Gawler Ranges, I think, if inquiry were made it would be found that there was a good supply of water in many of the dams.”
These statements point to the need which” exists for further inquiry being made in regard to the route of the proposed line. I do not know Mr. Higgins any more than I know Mr. Murray, but when men of repute make such assertions, and say that they are prepared to back them up, honorable senators should pause before finally committing themselves to the route which’ is proposed in this Bill. Many persons believe that we shall be justified in constructing the line an additional 67½ miles to Tarcoola, because of the mineral development which is likely to take place there.
Others seem to think that Tarcoola has seen its best days.
– But the proposed line is to be built for defence purposes.
– I am under the impression that the South Australian Government stipulated that the line should go to Tarcoola, because it might lead to considerable mineral development in that country. Personally, I do not know which is the better route. It has been said that the railway will traverse a vast area of desert country, which is practically waterless.
– Who said that?
– I have read the opinions of a number of men to that effect.
– The surveyors who went over the country do not say it.
– I am glad that the Minister has procured a map from South Australia showing the spots at which water is obtainable along the route. But only one well is shown on that map from which water can positively be obtained.
– I can assure the honorable senator that he is wrong.
– Mr. John Muir, in a report to the Engineer-in-Chief of Western Australia, says -
As regards the route adopted, I am of the opinion that the line should be diverted somewhat as shown in blue pencil (that is, to the south of its present location)….. , The principal reasons for advocating the deviation are: - (a) that the rainfall would be greater; and (4) that the land is better in quality. As a matter of fact, given railway communication adjacent to or within a reasonable distance of the Cliffs (Hampton Range), many thousands of acres of land suitable for wheat-growing would be made available fdr selection. This suggested deviation should, I think, receive very careful consideration before the route is finally determined upon.
That exactly expresses the position in which I find myself. I would like a careful inquiry to be made before the proposed route is finally adopted. There are residents of the west coast of South Australia who affirm that a line which traversed a route nearer the sea would run through agricultural land-
– And every ton of goods which they received would be carried by sea, and not by rail.
– I have a notion that a railway is sometimes required to convey goods to a port. Before the Bill is carried, I wish to be certain that I am voting for the best route.
– If the honorable senator is in any doubt, he should follow the Government.
– If I am in any doubt, I will not follow the Government.
– Why does the honorable senator prefer to accept the statements of a casual newspaper correspondent rather than those of engineers of repute?
– Because the engineers of repute differ. For instance, Mr. Muir reported to the Engineer-in-Chief of Western Australia -
This suggested deviation should, I think, receive very careful consideration before the route is finally determined upon.
– And the EngineerinChief of Western Australia did not think his proposition worth putting forward.
– If these engineers differ in regard to the route which should be followed, what is a layman to do? Senator 0’ Keefe has said that he pins his faith to the experts. So do I, as a rule. But, upon this occasion, they differ.
– I have been over a lot of this country.
– But, unfortunately, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has not given us the benefit of his experiences. The justification for the route, via Tarcoola, which will involve the construction of an additional 67 J miles of railway, is that it will probably lead to a large mineral development there. On the other hand, there are those who urge that that additional distance will involve an extra outlay of £500.000 or £600,000. It has also been said that the line will pass through a waterless country, which has no possibilities of agricultural or pastoral traffic, and that beyond Tarcoola, which has, proved a disappointment, there is no trace of minerals. It is further urged that every passenger, and every ton of goods, will have to be taken 67J miles out of the way for all time. That, briefly, is the view which is expressed by those who prefer the coastal route. I do not pretend to say which is the better route. But if the proposed line is to be worth anything, it will have to be a mail line, which will finally run to Port Augusta, thence to Petersburg, Broken Hill, and Cobar, as the direct route to Sydney.
– That is so.
– A good deal has been said in regard to the width of gauge which we should adopt. Indeed, it has been the subject of much heated controversy. I do not know whether the Ministry have pledged themselves to a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, but, if so, unless South Australia is prepared to convert her lines to that gauge, a passenger who enters the train at Perth will have to make a good many changes before he arrives in Adelaide. Some American authorities are already viewing the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge with less favour than they did previously. They are declaring that what they want is heavier rails, a wider track, a heavier rolling-stock, and easier gradients, so that they may be able to haul big loads, at much less expense than they do on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. I want to quote from Mr. Hales’ paper, with regard to the question of gauge. He says -
Uniformity of gauge is a most important question for Australia. There are three different gauges on its main railway systems, and the daily losses and delays incidental to break of gauge will become of vital importance in time of war. This is a federal question, involving the expenditure of many millions of money in the near future. A secondary question, but also of the utmost importance, is, what gauge will give the best material and financial results for all timer A radical change is proposed in a railway system which has cost over 146 millions.
Continuing, Mr. Hales says -
There is no special advantage in adopting any particular gauge which may be considered standard. Australia already has a large enough railway system to warrant a special gauge of its own, just as India and Ceylon have their special gauge of 5 ft. 6 in. India is already regretting the departure from this gauge on some now important lines, which were built to the metre gauge - 3 ft.33/8 in. Those who are intimately acquainted with the construction and working of railways know that any one gauge is not materially and financially suitable for all countries or districts.
He favours, on the whole, the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, because he says -
The largest practicable locomotive for ‘ 5-ft. 3-in. gauge would probably be 20 per cent. more powerful than the largest practicable locomotive on 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. Carriages and trucks could be made about 10 per cent, wider, with a similar increase in carrying capacity. It may safely be affirmed that a railway of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge can handle fully 10 per cent, moretraffic than a railway 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge at a less cost per passenger mile and per ton mile, and the cost of construction per mile in an easy country like Australia will be little greater.
He makes one very important statement I think with regard to this matter of change of gauge. He says that if you were to put on one side the whole of the 5-ft. 3-in. rolling-stock it would pretty well have to go on the scrap heap, because it would be. almost valueless. Whereas, if you were to put out of use the 4-ft.8½-in. rollingstock there would be many countries in which it could be sold, of course, somewhat at a discount. It would not be sacrificed to anything like the same extent as would the other rolling-stock. Mr. Hales remarks -
The rolling-stock on 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge - cost £7,816,359 - should be saleable at second-hand price - say, 50 per cent. Most of the rollingstock on 5-ft. 3-in. gauge - cost £8,001,588- would only be saleable at scrap prices - say, 15 per cent.
That is, I think, a matter which is worth consideration. At the present time we have the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge from Terowie, in South Australia, to Albury, in New South Wales, and that is the longest line of one gauge that there is in the Commonwealth, if the proposed railway were built on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge the Inter-State traffic from Perth to Albury would be run on that gauge, and it would not be very much to New South Wales to alter her railway from Albury to Sydney to the 5-i’t. 3-in. gauge, and so make the gauge uniform from Perth to that point.
– What about the line from Sydney to Brisbane?
– The line in Queensland is builton the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge.
– You are only taking one bit of Australia into consideration.
– Exactly ; but what I said is still true, namely, that the line from Perth to Albury would be the longest line of one gauge in Australia. We have a right to know how the money for the construction of this railway is to be obtained. Honestly, I do not believe that it will be built for £4,000,000. I anticipate that the cost will fie nearer £6,000,000.
– What is a million or two?
– Of course, to Western Australian senators, a million or two is nothing. All that they want is the railway, and hang the expense.
– The financier for the Fusion Ministry used to talk in that way.
– Sir John Forrest is, I dare say, a very good financier. We have a right to know whether the Government intend to get the money for this railway out of revenue or to borrow it. It is all very well for the Minister to sit back and say nothing.
– But the Minister has said it already.
– The Senate is entitled to this information. I do not think that, in the circumstances, Senator Millen’s amendment is unreasonable. It only asks that, before we finally decide on the route and the gauge of the railway, and commit the Commonwealth to the expenditure of all this money, we should get as much information as we need. I think that there is a good deal in the latter part of his proposition, and, that is, that the line should be built somewhat on the betterment principle. If Western Australia and South Australia find the value of their lands largely improved by the construction of the railway, it is only fair that the Commonwealth should reap some part of that benefit. I do not believe, for a moment, in the amendment which Senator Walker has outlined. I would not like to see the line constructed on the land-grant principle, because I think it would be bad in every way. But I consider that the condition laid down by Senator Millen in his amendment is worth consideration. In the first place, I shall vote for his amendment, but, if it is lost, I shall not oppose the second reading of the Bill.
– Does the Minister want it all “. no “ ?
– I would just as soon have it all “no,” as have it all “ yes.”
– This is no “yes” business with me. I agree with the amendment of Senator Millen, and will vote for it, but, if it is lost, what have I to do? I have to make up my mind as to whether 1 am to oppose the second reading of the Bill or not.
– If you condemn the Bill, why have you not the courage to vote against its second reading?
– Will the honorable senator mind his own business, and allow me to mind mine? He has quite enough to do to manage his own business. If the amendment is not carried, I shall not oppose the second reading of the Bill; but, unless the Government consent to give us the information which hitherto has been withheld, and unless I am satisfied with regard to this Bill when it is through Committee, I shall vote against the third reading.
SenatorLt. -Colonel Sir ALBERT
I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I cannot agree to it.
– I understood that a promise was given to Senator Millen that the debate would be adjourned at about half -past ten.
– Let us hear the honorable senator on the Bill.
– The honorable senator will not hear me to-night.
– All right, then.
Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Has the Minister of Defence received from Mr.James Alexander Smith any reply to Mr. Deane’s rejoinder?
– If it comes in, will the Minister be good enough to have it published ?
– I shall consult the Minister.
SenatorMcCOLL. -The Minister assured me the other day that all the correspondence regarding the line had been published.I had been informed that a letter was sent to the Commonwealth Government’ by the Acting Premier of Victoria, which was not in the correspondence, and I advised the Minister to that effect. I wrote to Mr. Watt on this matter, and received the following reply -
Dear Mr. Mccoll,
I have yours of the 24th inst., and in reply I would state that this Government wrote to the Commonwealth Government on the 6th October last, re the gauge question. We pointed out that no satisfactory solution to the question was possible without a conference between the representative Ministers of the Commonwealth and the States, and advising that such a conference be held as early as practicable. We also advised that the Commonwealth Government should take the necessary steps to prevent a final decision of question pending such deliberations as suggested.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) W. a. Watt.
The Minister has, therefore, been wrongly advised when he says that no such letter was sent. Perhaps he will be gooff enough to look into the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at10.33p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 November 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19111129_senate_4_62/>.