10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The quantity of carbide imported into the Commonwealth during the years 1924 and 1925?
The place or places of origin of such carbide, and the amount obtained from each?
The value of such carbide?
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information : -
London by boards, the members of which take every precaution to see that our goods are properly marketed. Perhaps, sir, I should ask leave to make a statement.
– If the honorable senator wishes to reply at some length, he would be more in order in asking for leave to make a statement.
– Then I ask leave to make a statement.
– Among the boards that are doing good work in London is the Butter Control Board, which is composed, if I remember rightly, of Sir James Cooper and Messrs. King and Norton. That board is entirely outside government control. From my own observations and reports that I have received, I am able to say that the board takes every possible precaution to see that the interests of Australia’s butter producers are protected. It has done a great deal to improve the reputation of Australian butter.. Similarly in connexion with the dried-fruit industry, there is a board of experts who do their utmost to market, to the best possible advantage, our exported dried fruits. They see that the fruit that is sent abroad is properly graded and of the right standard and quality. As Minister for Markets, I, personally, am very proud of the work of the Dried Fruits Export Control Board. The Government was exceedingly fortunate to secure the services of the. three gentlemen whom it nominated as members of the board. The other four members were elected by the growers in the various States. It would be difficult to estimate the value of the services of these gentlemen.
– But apparently inferior fruit is still being sent abroad.
– Unfortunately, too many people are prone to take advantage of any possible ground for criticism. Two years ago our methods of marketing were, perhaps, open to some adverse criticism, but they have been immeasurably improved since then.
– What about the Eromanga consignment ?
– All I have to say about that fruit, which was said to be unfit to be sent out of the country, and to be pulpy and generally unfit for human consumption, is that I received this morning a cablegram to the effect that the greater portion of it was re-sold at a profit by its purchasers. There is something sinister behind all this adverse criticism. In spite of it all, however, I have only this morning received advice of a cablegram from London from the buyers of some of our last season’s output, asking for an opportunity to purchase the coming season’s crop. I have not made a complete statement about the Eromanga shipment, nor do I yet desire to doso. I shall content myself with observing just now that vast improvements have been made in the marketing of our exported produce in the last eighteen months. Our various boards are doing excellent work. I was approached to-day in regard to the export of apples. Some people desire the regulations to be relaxed. The information to handfrom the High Commissioner is that it would be most regrettable for the reputation of Australian apples if the regulations were relaxed in any degree whatever. The Government is determined that the quality of our exported fruit shall begood. People who buy our produce on the other side of the world should be able to rely absolutely on our guarantee that the standard will be maintained.
– Does the Minister wishus to understand that all the fruit in the Eromanga arrived in good order and condition?.
– I repeat that I have received information that the purchasers of some of the alleged inferior fruit have sold it at a profit.
– But was some of the consignment ofinferior quality?
– I am not in a position to say whether it was or was not. The complaint was given unfair publicity. Surely we have reached a stage in our development when we should cease from everlastingly crying down our own produce. Criticism should long ago have become constructive, instead of destructive.
– Destructive criticism is caused by those who export inferior fruit.
-The honorable senator has, apparently, read in the press that a consignment of in- ferior fruit was exported, but that charge has not yet been proved. The Government, realizing that immediate action should be taken, instituted the fullest possible inquiry. Only this morning I was informed by cable that the greater portion of the fruit supposed to be inferior had been sold at a profit.
– That does not answer the question.
Senator Sir VICTOR WILSON.What question does the honorable senator wish me to answer ?
– As to whether fruit which was condemned in London was passed by a Commonwealth officer.
– A fair sample of the consignment in question, which was retained by the Customs Department, was opened before the members of the Board of Trade, which is representative of all the States and free from political control, and representatives of the press, and the report shows that the fruit was of good colour and quality, and the syrup in every way satisfactory.
– That suggests that there is something wrong at the London end.
– The same might be said concerning the Australian export apple trade. Australia, should realize that a foreign country whichis exporting to Great Britain approximately 2,2S0,000 cases of canned fruits, does not wish the increased trade in Australian exports which has developed in consequence of the activities of Australia’s representatives at the British Empire Exhibition, to prejudice its export trade. We should uphold the quality, of our products instead of everlastingly looking for some means to prejudice the interests of Australian producers.
– Will the result. of the Government’s inquiries be made public?
– They always are.
Arrangement with Dr. SMALPAGE
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Health, upon- notice -
Will the Minister make a statement to the Senate giving full details of the agreement entered into with Dr. Smalpage for the use of serum by the Commonwealth Government for the treatment of tuberculosis, and also particulars .regarding the tests being or to be conducted t
– As the answer to the honorable senator’s question is somewhat long, I ask leave to make a statement.
– In March, 1925, Dr. Smalpage first brought under the notice of the department the fact that he was obtaining satisfactory results by a certain process of preparation of an anti-toxin against tubercle bacilli. In order to carry, out this process the preparation of certain extracts was necessary. At the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories a preparation of this extract was put in hand, and the supplies were from time to time forwarded to Dr. Smalpage. The preparation of anti-toxin was delayed on account of- certain difficulties of a technical character, and, accordingly, on the 7th January, 1926, an invitation was addressed to Dr. Smalpage to come to the serum laboratories and make use of the resources of the laboratories for the production of serum by his own method. The method just now being developed consists of utilizing an extract of the spleen for the digestion of living tubercle bacilli. This digestion results, it is claimed, in the production of an endotoxin, which upon injection into a horse stimulates the cells of the horse to the production of anti-toxin. It is this antitoxin which is used by Dr. Smalpage for the treatment of human cases of tuberculosis. Many attempts have been made to produce an anti-toxin against tuberculosis, but, so far as is known, no previous attempt by the use of this particular method has been made. In view of the responsibility which attaches to any statement made by the Government, it is necessary to state that, although the results which Dr. Smalpage claims to have obtained are encouraging, still the department has not yet had before it the evidence which is necessary to the formation of any estimate of the reliability of these results. A test series of cases, which must be carefully selected and closely observed by independent specialists, must be treated for a sufficient period of time to enable a judgment to be formed as to the effect of this method of treatment. The department, in concert with Dr. Smalpage, has undertaken to arrange that this series of test cases shall be dealt with in the six capital cities simultaneously; but it is necessary, in view of the numerous communications which have been received from patients or their friends, to state that it will not be possible to commence the treatment of this series of cases until at least three weeks hence. It is also necessary that the selection of the test cases shall be made by the specialists who will be observing the effect of treatment with a view of ascertaining the effect of the serum upon different classes of cases, and it will not be possible to give preference or consideration to any patient for any other reason than the opinion of the committee of specialists as to the suitability of the case for test purposes. Dr. Smalpage is actively engaged upon the various stages in the preparation of this serum at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, and it is not practicable by any means to expedite the process. Dr. Smalpage has very openly requested that the department’s officers should keep in close touch with his work, and make independent experiments at various stages to corroborate or disprove his results, and arrangements have been made to this end so that the results of the laboratory tests may be available for consideration at the same time as the results of the tests from human patients. It is important to make acknowledgment to Dr. Smalpage by letting it be known that he has intimated that he is prepared to transfer to the Commonwealth Government, without any conditions, for use within the Commonwealth, all of his rights in the process. These conditions have been agreed to by Dr. Smalpage, and the way is now clear for a complete test of the value of the serum for the treatment of tuberculosis patients. The Government has arranged to make an allowance to Dr. Smalpage in order to meet his immediate personal expenses while the serum is being prepared, and it is necessary to emphasize, first, that it is not intended to make any serum available until the tests have been completed, and this may take from three to six months. Dr. Smalpage, of course, will have supplies. Secondly, so soon as the efficiency of the serum is established, a sufficient quantity will be made available for general use. The Government has gone to a good deal of expense in providing horses that have been inoculated, so that if the tests prove successful the supply of serum will be sufficient to meet any demand that may be made for it within the Commonwealth.
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What is the cause of the delay regarding the construction of telephonic communication at the Ceratodus settlement in the Upper Burnett, Queensland?
Is he aware whether great inconvenience exists there in consequence of lack of telephonic communication?
Will he give instructions to ensure that this work be immediately proceeded with?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What is the intention of the Government in respect to the recommendation of the Commonwealth Board of Trade that a commission should be appointed to inquire into the position of the gold-mining industry?
– The matter is under consideration.
Senator Sir VICTOR WILSON (South
Australia - Minister for Markets and Migration) [3.18]. - (By leave.) - In answer to the statements made in the Senate by Senator Thomas on the 27th ult., regarding the alleged delay in dealing with a nomination of three families submitted first by Mr. J. H. Cann and later by the Honorable G. Cann, I desire to state that the Migration and Settlement Office, London, has furnished a reply to inquiries made. It is pointed out that probably Mr. J. H. Cann did not clearly understand that at the request of most of the Governments of the States, London nominations are discouraged, and this was no doubt the reason why it was suggested that the nomination be lodged at Sydney by Mr. G. Cann. The London file showed that the first call of Mr. J. H. Cann was the 21st August, and on that date a nomination for three families was effected. This nomination was duplicated by cable from Sydney on the 2nd September, documents were completed on the 7th October, the money deposited by Mr. J. H. Cann on the 14th October, and the familes booked to sail on the 23rd October. The sailing of the vessel, with many others, was cancelled owing to the strike of seamen, and the families booked on the first available vessel, which was to leave London on the 11th February, in the strict order of rotation of booking, there being over 1,000 others previously booked and awaiting passages. All delays from the 21st August were therefore solely due to the strike. The statement that Mr. J. H. Cann was unable to see Mr. Shepherd, the Official Secretary, is not understood, as that officer interviewed him and took him to the migration section of Australia House with instructions to the staff to give all possible assistance, with the result stated. I regret that these matters are brought before the Senate before the Minister or the department has had a reasonable opportunity to make the necessary inquiries. In our immigration policy we are dealing with flesh and blood, and we endeavour, wherever possible, to suit the convenience of migrants. No good purpose can be served by ventilating complaints in the Senate. The best course is to approach the Minister or the department so that full inquiries may be made.
– Order! It is not in accordance with parliamentary practice that the debate should be allowed to degenerate into an argument between the Minister and an honorable senator.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 3rd February (vide page 591), on motion by Senator Sir Victor Wilson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [3.25]. - When speaking last night upon this bill, I dealt first of all with the legal and moral position in relation to the agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia, and I pointed out that there was a consensus of legal opinion that the obligation on the Commonwealth was to construct the north-south railway within the Northern Territory and the State of South Australia. That argument has not been controverted. Indeed it cannot be. No legal opinion can be produced against it except a statement made by the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes in the course of a political speech. Therefore we may regard it as beyond all doubt that that is the contract I referred, also, to remarks made by Senator Guthrie and Senator Cox, and, I hope, showed that the statements of both honorable senators were entirely contrary to fact, and were made in ignorance of the true position. Neither honorable senator has been over the country that will be served by this proposed railway, and so neither has any first-hand knowledge of its possibilities. I dealt also with the statements made by Senator Foll, who had the presumption to charge South Australia with being in the position of a Shylock.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.By no means. Senator Foll charged South Australia with demanding its pound of flesh in respect of the agreement. Imagine this coming from Senator Foll, who, as a member of the Public Works Committee that inquired into this proposal, and after taking sworn evidence all over Australia, actually recommended that a line should be constructed from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs ! That is all that this bill provides. Senator Foll yesterday was inconsistent, because as a member of the Public Works Committee he was a party to the recommendation that a line should be constructed from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs.
Senator Cox yesterday made statements which, I was about to say, were unsupported by evidence. Senator Cox certainly produced no evidence, and his remarks merely proclaimed his profound ignorance of the subject. Senator Guthrie did attempt to support his opposition to the bill by quoting the opinion of an unknown person. He told us that the day before yesterday a certain gentleman had made a statement to him that the country to be served by this railway was a desert, devoid of feed and water. When asked for the name of his informant, he declined to give it, because the man did not wish his name to be disclosed. The honorable senator said that his informant was the manager of a company. He was asked “What company?” and he replied that his informant did not wish the name of the company to be disclossd. One can understand the reason for the desire of this man to withhold his name, as he would be judged from one end of Australia to the other upon his utterances. One can also understand his desire that the name of the company should not be disclosed, because those who control the company would in all probability say to the man, “You had better relinquish the managership of this company because you do not know anything about the country, and you are making statements that are entirely contrary to fact. In any case we would sooner have a more reliable man to manage our properties.” Apart from the statements of those two honorable senators, who have never seen this country, there is no evidence to support the contention that the expenditure upon this line will be a pure waste of money.
Senate, in the absence of Senator Ogden, that the whole of the country to the west of this proposed line was useless - that it was a desert. The special committee was as fine a committee as one could get in Australia for the particular purpose for which it was appointed. It reported that this was good average pastoral country, pre-eminently suited to sheep raising and wool growing, with water obtainable anywhere. One could hardly imagine that further evidence was necessary, but as a doubt has been raised regarding it, I shall direct the attention of honorable senators to the evidence which was given before the Public Works Committee, upon which was based the report to which Senator Foll was a signatory. It is a pity that Senator Foll did not endorse yesterday the opinions which the report expressed.
– Order! The debate is degenerating into an argument between individual honorable senators.
– I have here the evidence upon which the report of the Public Works Committee was based. Anywhere within its four corners will be found evidence that has been taken from men who wholeheartedly support this railway, whether they be in South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales orQueensland. Take the first witness who was examined - Mr. Durack, a pastoralist in Western Australia. He pointed out that he had been all over the Territory, and that he had lived in it for a number of years ; and he said -
As to the line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, I unhesitatingly say that, committed as we are to the White Australia policy, this extension is the only means of developing northern Australia. … As a means of developing that area, I think a direct line from Oodnadatta, through Newcastle Waters,on to the Katherine, would serve the whole of Australia better than the Camooweal route. If a deviation is taken to the eastward, there would be left a big area untouched. With the direct line it would be easy to tap the north and south line, and give better opportunity for developing the area which lies on the west of the direct north and south line. If we neglect this direct north and south line we shall leave a big area entirely undeveloped on the western side.
That is exactly what I pointed out last night; if the eastern route advocated by Senator Guthrie and other honorable senators is adopted, the centre of Australia will be left untouched, and, consequently, it will not be developed.
– There will be a gap between Alice Springs and Newcastle Waters which does not require a railway.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.This line does not go beyond Alice Springs, so why discuss such an extension at the moment ? Take the next witness, the Hon. G. J. G. W. Miles, a member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia. He has had considerable experience in the Northern Territory, and, having been a pastoralist, he is able to form an opinion of the quality of the land. He said -
I consider that we require railways to connect Derby, Wyndham, and the western side generally with the Northern Territory line - with the north-south railway. In speaking on the subject in South Australia, I said that we were not putting up this in opposition to the South Australian line.
He advocated the direct north-south line. Take the next witness, Samuel Dyke, railway engineer. He said -
I have first-hand knowledge of the country which will be affected by this proposed railway.
He was for a considerable time in the Territory. Continuing, he said -
From my experience, if I were constructing a railway north and south, I would go the. direct route to Alice Springs after leaving Oodnadatta; this direct route would serve all the western country; it is magnificent pastoral country. The Musgrave Ranges Pastoral Company took up thousands of miles of country, and paid the rent for three years, but owing to there being no facilities for getting the stock down, they never stocked. . . .. The pastoral country which would feed the proposed fine is all known and proved, and the only difficulty has been to get the stock down. Prom Oodnadatta to this good country is from 80 to 120 miles, but it is good country all the way.
Later he said -
If I were asked to advise, I would certainly say the railway should be run north and south as nearly as possible along the transcontinental telegraph lines. This would not run through a Targe area of poor country; that is a fallacy on the part of people who have not been through that part.
The suggestion that the line will run through a large area of poor country is a fallacy. But honorable senators who have not visited the country, and know nothing about it have repeated that fallacy. What this witness said is perfectly true. He stated further -
I grant that there are the Depot Sand Hills, 30 to 40 feet high, but that is only a stretch of about 30 miles north and south, thougheast and west, I suppose, it is 130 or 150 miles. These hills, however, grow spinifex, which is splendid stock food. There is permanent water for stock in clay pans, and right through water is procurable through boring; thislatter is not a matter of opinion, but has been proved.
Later on he said -
It would not be a good scheme to connect the railway to Port Darwin from Camooweal instead of down from Oodnadatta; it would be a better plan to bring in horizontal spur lines. A railway from Camooweal to Broome, not coming south at all, would be a good railway; you would then keep in the northwestern corner of Australia. A line from Broome to Camooweal would open a good country, but. it would not do as well as a north-south line. There is certainly not better land in the north-west of Queensland than in the centre of Australia; the land in the centre of Australia is better than in the north of Australia.
Mr. LycurgusUnderdown, a pastoralist whom I know well, has lived in the Northern Territory for a number of years and is well acquainted with the country. He stated that the line should run to Alice Springs, but he recommended its construction from Kingoonya, because it would then serve the Everard Ranges country. He went on to say that it was all splendid country. Mr. Edwin Lowe of Annandale stated -
I favour the direct route for the railway, because there is good cattle country along practically the whole length of it. Most of the country has been taken up, and almost anywhere you can get water by sinking wells to a depth of 20 feet. The advantage of the railway would be that moreland would be taken up by pastoralists; they could get their supplies at lower cost and get their stock away to market easier….. I favour a direct north-south route for the railway, because by adopting the route through Camooweal you are leaving all this country which would give you good results as a cattle country and has mineral possibilities, to serve the Tableland country, which if a direct line were constructed would be at no great distance from two railways - the through line and the Queensland system.
SenatorFoll. - Is there anything in this bill dealing with a line to Camooweal ?
– No, but I am replying to the argument put forward by Senator Guthrie that the line should deviate in that direction, because, in his opinion, to take it by the direct north-south route would be a mistake and a waste of money. That contention was put very strongly by Senator Guthrie and also by Senator Cox. The witness further stated -
I think the railway from Oodnadatta to Darwin would have the best chance of settling people on the land and paying its way, because you have holdings which have been taken up and will be held for a long time.
Mr. E. R. Kempe gave similar evidence. He said -
If the line ran from north to south, there would be more traffic than if it swung round through Birdsville and Marree. The population in the Macdonnell Ranges, and north of here would supply the traffic. The country is heavier stocked in Western Queensland than it is about here, but not more so than it is further north from here. With a direct line, there would be an outlet this way for the northern cattle. A line from Katherine to Camooweal and down would, I admit, be also an outlet for some of the northern cattle, but I think there would be more traffic if it came by the direct route.
Mr.J. A. Breaden who has been in central Australia for 44 years and for 22 years has occupied one property, gave evidence -
I was here before the railway was built to Oodnadatta, and had to walk my cattle to market. The railway when it came to Oodnadatta was of great advantage. My opinion is that if the railway goes through to the north, it will be of great benefit to a large number of settlers, and will probably attract more settlers. I think the best way to develop this country is to have the land in the hands of private individuals rather than in the hands of large companies….. I think, generally speaking, it would be better to build the railway in a north-westerly direction from Oodnadatta. A railway from Kingoonya to Alice Springs would probably not tap any better country than the direct line….. I think the railway should go direct to Arltunga instead of to Alice Springs. It would tap just as good pastoral country, and escape many engineering difficulties, and have the effect of opening up the mineral country about Arltunga, and further north.
That would merely be a slight deviation to open up mineral areas. Then he recommended that the line should return to the direct north-south route. Mr. T. H. Pearce stated -
The country to the east of the telegraph line between Oodnadatta and Arltunga consists of sandhills, box flats, mulga flats, and small areas of tableland country. It is not as good as on the western side.
That evidence is in direct opposition to what has been submitted by Senator Guthrie. The witness distinctly stated that the land to the east of the direct route is not as good as the land to the west, and yet we are asked by Senator Guthrie to favour a line going east, which would not tap the country proposed to be served. Senator Guthrie said a great deal about the Barkly Tablelands, the value of which, I think, has been over-rated. The witness went on to say -
The Barkly Tableland is about 400 miles square. It is all black soil plains, but I do not think it will ever he good sheep country, although portions will carry sheep. It is a purely cattle country with sub-artesian water in abundance at a depth of 200 to 300 feet. I know it has been suggested that the railway should run into Camooweal. and then back again to Marree; but I do not think that would be a good route. It would be longer, and would not benefit the Territory generally, and would not materially help settlement, because the country it would traverse is already all taken up. By taking a direct route, you would have the whole of the line from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta serving country which will be sooner or later taken up.
– Of course the section from Marree to Birdsville was to be part of the line around Australia suggested by the late Lord Kitchener. This would go over the most northerly portion of Australia. The Alice Springs line is included in that scheme.
– We could not expect to have two lines built in that way. If the Birdsville country is to be served it should be by an extension of existing State railways.
– But the natural outlet for that part of Queensland is South Australia.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.As regards distance, that is so, but it is some of the poorest country in Australia, and has a rainfall of less than five inches a year.
– But it carries more stock than the Macdonnell Ranges country, according to Mr. Hobler’s figures.
– It would not carry nearly so much stocK as the Macdonnell Ranges could, if railway facilities were provided. I have already shown that the land along the direct route is suitable, for not only cattle and horses, but also sheep. Mr. G. A. Johannsen stated, in reply to Senator Foll-
I consider the first essential for the development of this country is a railway, because we cannot make proper provision of water without boring plant, &c, and at the present time we cannot even get up a decent engine on account of everything having to be carried by camel.
Mr. Johannsen gave the real reason for the non-development of the country. Although water is essential there, the settlers cannot get even boring plant there. Everything that is needed there must be carried by camels. Mr. T. G. Ballingall gave this evidence -
This is fairly good stock country, but south of Oodnadatta is not so good ns north of it. From here the country improves towards the north. I should say the good country starts about Deep Well or Mount Burrell, and extends northwards.
I should now like to call the attention of honorable senators to the evidence given by a number of witnesses in Queensland and New South Wales. Mr. J. G. Scholefield, a grazier, who was examined at Boulia, said -
In flood times the Georgina spreads out on the Marion Downs miles wide. The Diamentina also spreads out about 130 miles from here.
That country would be traversed if the eastern route were adopted. His evidence proceeded as follows -
As far as the country goes t think a railway through Camooweal and Thargomindah to Bourke would go through better class country more adapted for closer settlement than any other route suggested. I have never been in the Northern Territory. If there were a line from Darwin to Bourke, and the States were to connect up with it, there would be a great network of railways covering the best districts in Australia.
– Order ! The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– A few days ago> Senator Baa-well, speaking on the Northern Australia Bill, accused me of having sneered at South Australia. I am extremely sorry that anything I said, or even the tone of my voice, should have been so interpreted.
– Then the honorable senator has repented ?
– I have not repented, for I did not sin. I have a very high regard for South Australia. I spent many happy years there, and was the parliamentary representative of a constituency in New South Wales which contained many South Australians who loyally supported me. I am sorry, therefore, that I should have been accused of having sneered at that State. I wish to say, however, that I have a legitimate: right to resent attacks on the Federal control of the Northern Territory. Some people seem to think that South Australians may severely criticise and condemn the Federal administration in the Northern Territory, but that any remark, however mildly uttered, about South Australia’s unsuccessful work there, must be interpreted as a sneer at that State.
– The honorable senator must at least admit that South Australia did more in the Northern Territory than the Commonwealth has done.
– Even at the risk of unjust criticism from Senator Barwell 1 intend, whenever I consider, it necessary, to defend the Federal administration in the Northern Territory. The purpose of this bill is to authorize the construction of a railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. The chief appeal of Senator Wilson for our support of the measure was that it would cause to be honoured an agreement that was made years ago with the Government of South Australia.
– I do not think that was the main argument in my speech.
– I heard the honorable senator’s speech, and I have since read it. If he did not strongly argue that way, then I have sadly misunderstood his remarks.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the agreement should be honoured?
– I shall deal with the agreement presently. All I arn saying now is that the speech of the honorable Minister who introduced the bill, and I may also say the earlier part of the speech just concluded by Senator Barwell, were principally an appeal to honorable senators to support this bill in order that the agreement made many years ago with South Australia, might be honoured. I must admit that Senator Barwell did, in the latter part of his address, urge that the bill should be supported on the merits of the proposal.
– That is why I quoted so much of the evidence submitted to the Public “Works Committee.
– I consider that the bill should be carried or rejected on its merits.
– Quite regardless of any agreement?
– I have been a member of Parliament for many years, but I. cannot remember any other occasion on which I was urged to support a railway bill on any ground but that of its merit. Undoubtedly, Senator Barwell argued in the earlier part of his speech that the railway should be built in accordance with the terms of the agreement in the schedule of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act of 1910.
– So did I.
– And so did the Minister.
– Senator Wilson during his speech also told us that the building of a railway into the Pinnaroo country in South Australia had resulted in great development there,- and that the same experience might follow the building of a railway into the Macdonnell ranges country. In the course of his excellent speech yesterday, Senator Foll quoted long extracts from a speech delivered by the late Mr. Deakin during the debate on the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill in 1910. It can hardly be denied that the South Australian members of the first Federal Parliament were very anxious that the Commonwealth should assume control of the Northern Territory. The honorable members of that Parliament were hardly sworn in when Mr. V. L. Solomon, a representative of South Australia, moved a motion to the effect that the Commonwealth should take over the Northern Territory from South Australia. He was supported by Mr. Poynton, another South Australian representative. Ultimately a bill with that object was introduced. On one occasion, when he was in charge of the measure in another place, the late Hon. E. L. Batchelor said -
It must be admitted that, on the whole, the control of South Australia has not been a success, but I do not’ know that any useful purpose would be served by inquiring into the reasons.
He, in common with other honorable members who represented South Australia, was anxious that South Australia should be relieved of the responsibility of developing the Territory; but honorable members who represented other States did not share his anxiety. The consequence was that although the first Northern Territory Acceptance Bill to be introduced, was carried in the House of Representatives, it Avas defeated in the Senate by two votes. Five honorable senators who at that time represented South Australia in the Senate voted for it, but the other one was not present, and was not. paired. Of the six representatives of New South Wales, five voted against the bill, and one did not vote. It will bc seen therefore, that there was no burning anxiety on the part of the Commonwealth to use its power to wring the Territory from South Australia. However, negotiations between Mr. Deakin, who was then Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and Mr. Price, who was then Premier of South Australia, were continued. As Senator Foll pointed out yesterday, Mr. Price sent a letter to Mr. Deakin requesting that the Federal Government should take over the Territory, and state a time within which the proposed north-south railway should be built, and also the route that it should take. Mr. Deakin replied that he could not ask the Federal Parliament to accept those conditions. The route, he argued, could only be properly determined by experts. Hp. was not, he said, sufficiently acquainted with the Northern Territory to determine it. He added that it would not be reasonable to bind the Federal Parliament to any given time in which the work must be completed. Subsequently, Mr. Price visited Melbourne and repeated his request that the proposed railway should be built along a direct southerly route from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta. Mr. Deakin repeated that’ he could riot agree to that. Mr. Price then said that a railway had been constructed by the South Australian Government as far as Oodnadatta with the intention of eventually extending it to Pine Creek, and consequently it would be very unfair to South Australia if it terminated in a desert. The intention of the Government was, he said, to continue the line further north in the hope that better country would be encountered.’ Mr. Deakin then said that he was prepared to submit Mr. Price’s suggestion to the Government, that the Commonwealth Government should take over the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line, and incidentally, carry its burden, which would give the South Australian Government a guarantee that at some future time it would be extended. That undertaking was given by the Commonwealth Government, notwithstanding that the whole of the line was in South Australian Territory. Under that agreement, which was submitted to and accepted by the Commonwealth Government, South Australia was relieved of a loss of about £80,000 a year . on that line, but no definite proposal was made as to the route of the proposed extension, or the time within which it should be constructed. In accepting the proposal, the Federal Parliament has relieved the South Australian Government of an expenditure of at least £80,000 a year for the last fifteen years, and in return it has always been understood that the Federal Parliament should have the right to determine the route of a northerly extension, and the time within which its construction should be commenced. As the proposed line is to cost at least £1,775,000, it will be seen that it would have been cheaper for the Commonwealth in the first place to have accepted the proposal to build a line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs instead of taking over the control of one on which an annual loss of £80,000 has been incurred. The people of South Australia cannot say that any losses which have occurred on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line have been due to mismanagement, as that line was under the control of the South Australian railway authorities until the 1st1 January of this year. The late Hon. E. L. Batchelor, who was Minister for External Affairs at the time, in introducing the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill in the House of Representatives, was asked by Mr. Groom what the Government’s view on the railway question was, and he replied that, under the agreement, a reasonable deviation outside the Territory could be made. The members of the Government at that time included the present Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce), Senator Findley, the late Senator Gregor McGregor, the late Hon. E. L. Batchelor, and the late Mr. Hutchinson, the three last mentioned being South Australians. With such a strong representation in the Government, “ it is only reasonable to suppose that the interests of South Australia would be safeguarded. When the measure was under discussion in the Senate, the late Senator Gregor McGregor said that there was no indication that the line was to be a straight, crooked or triangular one, and that there would be every opportunity for the line to be taken in a direction which would- be in the interests of the whole of Australia. Just before the vote on the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill was taken in thi3 Chamber, when the measure was defeated by two votes, the late Senator Storey said that he again urged that the railway question need not create any difficulty. There was, he said, no limit as to the time in which the line should be constructed, and the Federal Parliament might be left to decide upon the route suggested, or the best possible route over which to construct the railway. In view of what transpired at that time, any member of the present Parliament, who was then a member of either House, is not bound to support a line which he does not think is in the best interests of the Commonwealth. I feel that I am absolutely free to vote as I desire. It is only fair to say that the late Mr. Batchelor thought that if there was to be any deviation outside the Territory, it should be to only a limited extent.
– Does the honorable senator intend to vote against this bill ?
– Yes. Most railway projects have to stand or fall upon their merits, but in this instance every possible argument seems to be adduced in order to secure the necessary authority for the construction of this line. Up to the present, Senator Barwell is the only speaker who has in any way attempted to justify on its merits the proposal to construct a line over the route proposed. Senator Drake-Brockman said that we were in honour bound to support the bill, and that Nationalists were pledged to it by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in his policy speech.
– The honorable senator was returned to this Chamber on the policy of the Prime Minister.
– No. I was returned to the Senate to assist in keeping the Labour party out of office. During a period of three years when I was associated with Senator Drake-Brockman in another parliament, there were occasions when that honorable senator voted against the Government in the interests of the State he represented. He was not then a minor official of the Government, but more of a free lance. I am prepared to justify my attitude on this measure before my constituents, and do not intend to be told by the Government Whip the way in which I should vote. My views on this proposal can be expressed in the words of the late Mr. Deakin, who said -
I am not arguing for a line outside the Territory. All I desire is that the best route shall be adopted. If it is shown that the best line must follow the overland telegraph, I am prepared to vote for it.
– That is this line.
– I want the evidence that it is the best route. We were not furnished with it when the Minister moved the second reading of the bill.
Senator- Newland. - The evidence has been here for the last three or four years.
– But I have not been in the Senate for the last three or four years. I have read Mr. Hobler’s evidence, ako that given by Professor Griffiths. I know their views.
– The honorable senator should read the evidence of men who live in Central Australia.
– All I want is evidence that this is the best route. This is what Mr. Deakin said -
I want the testimony of men capable of giving an expert opinion. I hold no brief in the matter for any locality, and needless to say I have no personal interest in the construction of any particular line there or anywhere else. I have no personal or party interests or feeling to serve.
That is exactly my sentiment with regard to this line. As a member of the Cabinet when the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill was before Parliament, I voted for it because I believed that it would relieve South Australia of a burden which that State was not able to carry. South Australia, I may add, did not treat the Northern Territory as a child of the family. but as an orphan.
– If the honorable senator does not vote for this bill the people in the Northern Territory will look upon him as a burden.
– They may do that, but I am not prepared to vote for the bill at present. The Minister’s interjection reminds me of a third reason advanced in support of the bill. The first, as we know, is “ honour.” We have been told that we must honour a certain compact. Then we have the reason given by the Government Whip. We have been told that we must vote for the bill or else, we cannot regard ourselves as Nationalists.
– Was that part of a private conversation ?
– Not at all; it was a statement made yesterday in this chamber. The third reason why the bill should be passed, it is said, is that if we do not accept it the South Australian Government will not allow the Commonwealth to resume any land in that State for the unification of the railway gauges. This, it appears, is part and parcel of the agreement. We are to build this line and, in return, South Australia will grant the Commonwealth the right to unify the gauges in that State. I remind Senator Barwell, who told us yesterday that we must honour our agreements, that some years ago Mr. Hughes, when Prime Minister, called a conference of State Premiers to consider the unification of railway gauges. That conference decided to secure the services of two experts to determine the standard gauge for Australia, and the clear understanding was that the decision of the experts should be accepted and steps taken to unify the railway systems in Australia. As it happened, the experts agreed upon the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, which suited New South Wales. South Australia refused to ratify that agreement. I am sorry that Senator Barwell is not in the chamber, because this matter intimately concerns him. He is reported to have said that he would not allow a mile of railway line in South Australia to be converted to the standard gauge until the railway was built from Oodnadatta.
– It was time he put the screw on somewhere.
– Apparently this railway proposal cannot be dealt with on its merits. It has to be bolstered up by an appeal to our sense of honour, and a threat that unless the work is put in hand the Commonwealth Government will not be allowed to unify the railway gauges in South Australia. It would have been far better to deal with it on its merits, as Senator Barwell attempted to do in the last half -hour of his speech. I know nothing about Oodnadatta and the country in Central Australia. I understand that a man must have been in the Territory before he can be regarded as an authority. I was in the Northern Territory for a fortnight. On the strength of my visit, perhaps I could claim to be an authority, but I prefer not to do so. Whether the proposed line will open up good country I cannot say. Senator Barwell says that it is wonderful country, capable of being successfully developed for sheep and cattle. It has occurred to me that if the country is so valuable, it is strange that South Australia did not, many years ago, continue the line beyond Oodnadatta. The existing railway was involving that State in a loss of £80,000 every year. This deficit, we have been told, was due to the fact that Oodnadatta, the terminus, is in the middle of . a desert. If the extension to Alice Springs will now cost about £2,000,000, I presume the line could have been built 30 years ago for about £1,000,000. We are all agreed that certain railway lines, if they terminate in unfavorable country, involve the country in a serious loss, but that if extended 50 or 100 miles they may become a payable proposition. We have a remarkable illustration of the truth of this statement in the case of the railway to Broken Hill. To the credit of South Australia it must be said that the Government of that State displayed commendable enterprise in building a line from Terowie to Cockburn, and it is to the lasting discredit of New’ South Wales that it did not. bridge the intervening gap of 36 .miles to Broken Hill, but allowed it to be done by a private enterprise. I feel sure that South Australia would have constructed the line, if permission had been given, in order to secure the Broken Hill traffic. But for the enterprise of the South Australian Government it is possible that Broken Hill would not have developed into such a prosperous mining centre. South Australia reaped a rich reward, because the traffic to and from Broken Hill and Port Pirie practically dominated railway finance in that State for many years. We may presume, therefore, that when this traffic was at its most remunerative stage South Australia, if it believed that the Macdonnell range country was the Eldorado which some people say it is, would have continued the railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs.
– The honorable senator could hardly expect a small community to shoulder that responsibility.
– A railway to Alice Springs then would have cost only about £1,000,000, and since the line, with its terminus at Oodnadatta, showed a deficit of £80,000 a year it would have been a statesmanlike policy to spend the extra million to develop traffic from the Macdonnell ranges, and so make the railway a paying proposition. The late Mr. Thomas Playford, one of South Australia’s ablest public men, was a man with a vision. I am satisfied that if he had remained in office he would have carried the line through to Alice Springs. At this stage we have every right to look at this proposal from the point of view of the respective States. Advocates of the line suggest that we should regard it from a national stand-point, but the Senate is not a national House; it is a States House. I suggested the other day that we should take steps to make it a national House, by seeking an amendment of the Constitution to allow of the States being represented according to population. The representatives of some of the smaller States nearly fainted at the suggestion. This chamber, we have been told so often, is a States rights House, and, therefore, we should look at all proposals, such as the bill before us, from the point of view of the respective States. Regarded from this angle the bill is a very important one. I can easily understand the- representatives of South Australia being prepared to risk construction of the railway now, though they did not care to undertake it when their State was liable to pay 100 per cent, of capital cost. Under this bill South Australia will contribute only 8 per cent. New South Wales pays 45 per cent, of all Commonwealth taxation, Victoria 30 per cent., Queensland’ 10 per cent., South Australia 8 per cent., Western Australia 5 per cent., and Tasmania 2 per cent.- It is easy for representatives of a State that -will- have 1o pay only 8 per cent, of the- total, cost, to advocate the construction of this line, and to urge that it is in fulfilment of an honorable agreement. The- other- States, and especially New South Wales, which will have to pay nearly half the cost and the loss on the line, may look at it in a different light.
– I thought we were all one family in. Australia.
– If we were all one family we should bc represented in thin chamber according to population, and therefore would not be subjected to taxation without representation. I ‘ advocate the construction of a line to Camooweal. There is no doubt that the rich land in the Barkly Tablelands should be opened up, and a line to Camooweal would place that country in touch with the people in the eastern States. Without population land cannot be developed, even though it is served by a railway. I should be prepared to support the construction of a line to Camooweal, ultimately linking up with South Australia. We are told that we are bound to vote for this proposal; that if we did otherwise we should break a solemn obligation. That is not so. By voting against it we shall not break any solemn obligation. We owe it to ourselves, and to- those who come after us, to develop the Territory, in which there will in the future be cities where there are now deserts. But we must select the route that will be most likely to develop the Territory. If we did anything else we should be false to the trust that has been reposed in us.
.. - Sufficient has been said- to convince the most sceptical of the necessity for constructing this railway. The Minister (Senator Wilson) described the land which will be tapped by it, and indicated its possibilities for settlement. Yesterday Senator Guthrie stated that, with the exception of the Barkly Tablelands; the land in the Northern Territory is of- little or no use. He said that the biggest portion; of the country contains no> feed andno. water. We have had’ submitted’ to- us* conflicting reports regarding water sup* plies: We have been told that bores: have- been sunk and. an abundant supply of water has been obtained at depths varying from 30 feet to 200 feet, thewater in many cases being fit for human consumption, and. in other cases suitable only for stock. Speaking in this, chamber last year, Senator Guthrie: detailed the different grasses that were, grown in various parts of the Territory? yet yesterday he made the remarkably contradictory statement that those very places were not capable of growing any grasses ! Although I am arepresentative of Western Australia, I tryto be first of all an Australian. To. me this is not a party matter. The building of this line will give employment to thousands of men. When. I asked a question upon the matter last year I was informed1 that the land which is adjacent to the present rail head is not very good’, but that a few hundred miles on each side of. it a better quality of land is met with. In Australia to-day 99 per cent, of the railways that have been constructed pass through good country, which is held in a virgin state by private individuals. The Northern Territory is, approximately, seven times as large as Victoria, and it contains some of the most valuable country in Australia. When it is opened up by railways and developed, as its resourceswarrant, it may bo possible to- divide it into’ three or more States. As true Australians we should welcome the opportunity to open up this vast area. If we are- to’ hold Australia and keep it white, we must populate it. At the present time there are settled in different parts of the Territory between 3,000 and 4,000 persons, many of whom have lived there for 45 or 50 years, . which proves that that, country can be be successfully worked by white people. It has excellent mineral possibilities, and its development may lead to the discovery of a field excelling the eastern gold-fields of Western Australia. I have not visited the Northern Territory, and I must, therefore, take my cue from those who have been, over it. A gentleman who recently returned from some of its mineral, areas brought with him . samples of ore averaging 11 6z. of gold tothe ton,, which’ were taken from a. face 28- feet wide. The ore contained also 33^ oz. of silver to the- ton-, and 35 per cent, of copper. That is> an indication that the” Territory/ contains, very great mineral wealth.- It, is impossible*,; however., to recover the gold and: silver that -its fields contain unless transport facilities are provided at a reasonable rate. We have been informed that the cost of transport from the rail-head to some of these fields amounts to between £35 and £40 a ton. That is a prohibitive price to pay for the carriage of any product. Senator Guthrie argued yesterday that the Territory would not carry one sheep to the mile, and that it was no good for wool growing. A gentleman who has a property there has expressed quite a different view of its capabilities; he has stated that his cattle and sheep have increased in number and that his output of wool has grown. I am perfectly satisfied that Senator Guthrie did not mean all that he said. His opinion of the Barkly Tablelands is that they are inferior to no other pastoral area in Australia. They contain about 400 square miles of black, loamy soil, with unlimited grass feed, but not a shrub that is 2 feet high in the summer time. The country adjacent to the tablelands grows grasses and shrubs upon which sheep and cattle thrive. In some parte of Australia sheep feed upon little else than saltbush and bluebush. A gentleman who has a selection just off the transcontinental railway, on the South Australian side, told me recently that he made the decision to cut up his holding and offer it for sale because he was unable to find water for his sheep. The day before I met him, however, water was struck, and the notice of sale was withdrawn. That man fed his sheep and cattle on only bluebush and saltbush. If these will fatten sheep and cattle in one part of the Commonwealth, they will have the same effect in other parts. Senator Guthrie complimented . the Minister (Senator Pearce) on the way he introduced the Northern Australia Bill, and said he was sure that almost everything the Minister had stated was correct. Did he adopt a similar attitude yesterday? No. Then why is he heard in the Senate with two voices? His remarks yesterday were condemnatory of this great project, ‘ and opposed to the views he expressed on the Northern Australia Bill. I do not intend to say more at this stage, although I could discuss the merits of the proposal at considerable length. I shall content myself by saying that I support the bill. -
– I have listened with dose attention to the debate on this measure, and feel sure that the bill will be agreed to, as it should be; but I resent any imputation that the proposed construction of a line running into the Northern Territory is of interest only to South Australia. This proposal, is of great national importance. The two essentials in great developmental, schemes in any part: of Australia are means of transit and- water supplies. The Minister made that clear in his second-reading speech, but some honorable senators who have not visited the Northern Territory are ready to express derogatory opinions concerning it. Yesterday, Senator Guthrie told a story about an unnamed man, who, he said, had expressed the opinion that the Territory was valueless. I point out, however, that the evidence taken by the Public Works Committee proves conclusively that the country is capable of settlement, and is worth developing. I have been trying to find a reason for Senator Guthrie’s antipathy to the bill and ‘his hostility to those who support it. I regret that he is not present at the moment. I objected, when he was speaking yesterday, to the statement he made concerning the honorable member for Grey (Mr. lacey). It was an innuendo that he had no right to make. Mr. Lacey is an honorable man, whose character cannot be called into question, and he had no opportunity to reply to the unfair criticism. Senator Guthrie took up the attitude of a parochialist, and went out of his way to question the rights of citizens of South Australia in regard to this proposal. This is not a South Australian, but a Commonwealth, bill. I would as readily vote for a railway through Queensland, or a line running from Western Australia to a point in Queensland, as I would for this proposal. After the north-south line is built - and railways seem at the present time to bo more suitable than aerial services for the purpose of opening Up this country - spur lines can be constructed into Western Australia and Queensland. Although I am not a railway expert, that seems to roe to be the scientific method. Railway experts favour the direct route, with the addition of spur lines, for bringing about increased development. Senator Thomas made a remark about the present line ending at Oodnadatta. When that railway was built by South Australia, the population of that State was less than 250,000. But South Australia with its limited financial resources accomplished a great deal for the Northern Territory. The further the railway is carried northward the better the land opened up will prove. Development, I have always maintained, should proceed gradually from the south. It has been suggested by some honorable senators that northern Australia is not a white man’s country; but I have no doubt that when settlement is graduallyextended from the south the settlers will become acclimatized. Not for a moment would I agree to bringing into Australia persons who are alleged to be able to do work that white men cannot undertake. I know many good Australians who have been in the Northern Territory for many years and have reared families there. It has been suggested that, while men thrive there, women deteriorate physically. I may say that my slight experience of the country leads me to believe that the health of the women is not seriously affected by the climate. When I visited the Northern Territory I noticed some of the finest Australian women I have seen. It is claimed by Tasmanians that their State produces the finest specimens of womanhood in the Commonwealth, but the women I saw in the Territory were quite as beautiful as, if not more beautiful than, those of Tasmania.
– That is putting the Northern Territory on a high plane.
– Yes, and the country warrants it. In the northof Queensland, too, I have seen some beautiful women.
– That, no doubt, is very interesting, but it has nothing to do with the bill.
– My point is that I desire to see the Northern Territory occupied by a much larger number of good Australians than it has at the present time. I am sorry that the Government has not seen fit to recommend the construction of a 4-ft. 81/2 -in gauge line. It is strange that it did not do so, for a sentence in the: Governor-General’s speech read, “ A uniform gauge in Australia is a pressing necessity.” I had hoped that the Kingoonya route would be adopted.
– Does the honorable senator consider that a better proposition than the Oodnadatta route?
-I do, for the reason that it is favoured by Mr. McBride-one of the best judges of the pastoral industry in Australia - Mr. Pick, Mr. Jacobs, and other pastoralists of similar standing, who know the country very well .
– Does the honorable senator think that, in the event of the Kingoonya route being adopted, the line from Marree to Oodnadatta should be torn up?
– That is a matter on which the railway experts should advise the Government. It is quite possible that that line would still serve a useful purpose. The advice of such pastoralists as those whom I have just mentioned, on the quality of the great stretch of country to the north-west of Port Augusta, is invaluable.
– We have had the practical experience of a fivefold increase in value in some cases since the east- west railway was built.
– That is so. A great deal could be said in favour of adopting the standard gauge on the new section of the North-South line, which it is now proposed to build. Weknow very well that the pastoralists along; the eastwest line have their best market at Kalgoorlie, and not at Adelaide, for the reason that they can put their stock on the train at such stations as Kingoonya and Tarcoola, and send it straight to the saleyards at Kalgoorlie without any transshipment; whereas, stock that is sent to Adelaide must be transhipped twice - first at Port Augusta and then at Terowie - before it reaches the Adelaide market. . All honorable senators have had some experience of the inconvenience caused to travellers by the break of gauge. May I say in passing that I hope the time is not far distant when an agreement will be reached with the Governments of Victoria and South Australia to convert the main trunk line at least to the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge, or to use a third rail on it. Personally, I would tear up a 3-ft. 6-in. line anywhere to put down a line of the standard gauge.
– Would the honorable senator also tear up 5-ft. 3-in. gauge lines to put down 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge lines ?
– Certainly. I arn glad that the line from Kyogle to South Brisbane is being built, for it will alleviate the break of’ gauge troubles. Honorable senators should not allow themselves to be swayed very much by the remarks made this afternoon by Senator Thomas. He endeavoured, by quoting the views expressed by a number of South Australian politicians, since deceased, to prove that they favoured the easterly route. As a matter of fact, what the politicians of South Australia, both past and present, have said is that they wish the fair thing to be done in the best interests of Australia. I trust that Senator Foll will support the bill, notwithstanding his speech of yesterday. I was glad to hear the reply given the other day by Senator Pearce to a question I asked him about the Northern Territory leases. 1 trust that we shall be able to induce a great many people to settle in the Northern Territory, but unquestionably the holdings will need to be smaller. If transport and water requirements are reasonably supplied, that will be possible. I do not desire to reiterate arguments used by other honorable senators, but if we have any regard for the morals of the rising generation of Australians, we shall make it our. business to see that the Federal Government scrupulously honours the agreement made years ago with the South Australian Government. No matter what our views are on such agreements, we ought to honour them. The transfer of the Seat of Government from Melbourne to Canberra will not be at all convenient for Victorian and South Australian members of this Parliament, but they feel bound to honour an agreement made between the Federal Government and the Government of New South Wales. The agreement made with the South Australian Government ought also to bo carefully observed. It will be sad for this young nation if the impression gets abroad that the Government lightly regards its pledged word. I intend to support the bill, although I am sorry that the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge line is not being adopted. I hope that the measure will have a speedy passage, and that it will result in great developments in the Northern Territory. This is entirely a non-party question, and I feel sure that honorable senators will regard it as such.
– I congratulate the Government on at last taking some active step to honour the agreement made in 1907 with the South Australian Government. I also congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Premier of South Australia (Mr. Gunn) on their part in the negotiations. The passage of this bill should see us within measurable distance of the complete fulfilment of the agreement. I trust that the line now proposed to be constructed will be ready for traffic by 1929. Apparently the Government has been convinced that the Oodnadatta route is preferable to the Kingoonya route, but I hope that the estimated cost of the respective proposals has not been the deciding factor. If the Kingoonya route were adopted, a line 530 miles in lengh would be constructed at a cost of £4,800,000, and run at an estimated loss of £144,414 annually. The length of the proposed line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs is 297£ miles, the estimated cost of construction £1,700,000, and the estimated annual loss £40,488. There is a great difference between the cost of the two proposals, but those, with a knowledge of the country to be served, claim that a railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge will meet the requirements of the locality for at least 100 years, and if that is so, the Government is justified in constructing the line on that gauge. Senator Thomas stated yesterday that if Senator Barwelcould show that the Commonwealth Government was legally bound to construct a line from the south to the north over a fairly direct route, he would support the bill, and as Senator Barwell quoted a number of eminent legal - authorities to show that the Commonwealth Government is so bound, Senator Thomas should support it. Surely the honorable senator does not want anything more convincing than the opinions of the best legal authorities, in not only South Australia, but the whole Commonwealth, as quoted by Senator
Barwell. Senator Thomas supported the honouring of the provision in the Constitution that the seat of government should be in New South Wales, and the undertaking to construct a trans-Australian railway to Western Australia, but he does not think that the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the South Australian Government should also be honoured. Senator Thomas went on to say that if the South Australian Government had extended the existing line a further 100 miles beyond Oodnadatta, it would probably have been a paying proposition to-day; but he omitted to state that South Australia, with its somewhat limited population and financial resources, was unable to continue the line. Senator Guthrie endeavoured to paint an awful picture of the country through which the proposed line will pass, and said that the honorable mem Der for Grey (Mr. Lacey) had stated in another place that the sheep in the vicinity of Ryan’s Well produced .8 ib. of scoured wool per .head. I have carefully read the speech of the honorable member for Grey, and I cannot find one reference to the quantity of wool produced by the sheep at Ryan’s Well. Senator Guthrie cast a serious reflection upon the honorable member for Grey, who is, practically, a teetotaller - a most abstemious man - when he said that there must have been something more than water at Ryan’s Well, and that King George whisky must have played an important part. He must have been measuring other people’s grain with his own bushel. When preparing his speech Senator Guthrie must have had more than water on his desk - probably it was King George whisky, because the honorable member for Grey, in speaking on the bill, did not make the statement he attributed to him. The honorable senator also went on to say that the representatives of South Australia in the Senate were in a hurry to see the construction of the line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs commenced, but I would remind the honorable senator that the South Australian people have been waiting 55 years for the construction of a line over the route now proposed. When the overland telegraph line was constructed from Adelaide ;to Darwin it was the inten- tion of the South Australian Government to build also an overland railway line, but for the reasons 1 have already mentioned it was found impracticable. Senator ‘Guthrie confined his remarks principally ‘.to the sheep industry, and in doing so overlooked the fact that the construction - of a railway would lead to general settlement. People should follow the railways, not the railways follow the people. If we are to develop Australia as it should be developed we should provide means of transport, and thus encourage settlement. Another astonishing statement by the honorable senator was that a man . from Central Australia had, without being asked, called on him and had said that the country was in a wretched state, and that it was unlikely that it could ;be profitably developed. Senator Guthrie also said that it would cost £150,000 to establish a sheep station in the Northern Territory ; but it is interesting to note that 95 per cent, of the settlers in the country to which he refers started without capital. Many men. who work on stations, where their services are - paid for in cattle instead of cash, ‘continue in their employment, while their stock is shepherded by blacks, until they have .sufficient to begin on their own account. Some who started in this way are now prosperous cattle-owners, owning homes costing from £800 :to £900. At Barrow Creek, a woman and her two daughters, who started two years ago with 100 sheep, have 500 to-day, Which shows that the conditions are not as impossible as Senator Guthrie suggests. He can speak only of the part of the country he has visited.
– Has Senator Guthrie ever been in the Northern Territory ?
– I do not know. We have heard a good deal of his father’s activities, but I do not think the honorable senator has ever been in the Territory. In referring at length to the Barkly Tablelands, Senator Guthrie said that although sheep stations had ‘been established in that locality the number had now dwindled considerably. He referred to Carrandotta, which he said was not now carrying any sheep, but when the Minister reminded him ‘that there were at present 40,;000- sheep on that station, he suddenly remembered that it had gone hack to sheep. The- honorable senator did not :say, that in travelling through the Barkly Tablelands, one has to carry wood for hundreds of miles in order to have sufficient fuel to makea fire to boil the billy, and that when rain falls in that country the ground becomes so sitcky that it would: bog a duck. Is the: honorable senator aware of the fact that there is a. mine at Tennant’s Creek producing 25 to 30 oz. of silver to the ton, and ore containing 25 per cent. of copper?
– Is that mine still working?
– I think so. The secretary of the Central Australia Silver Lead and’ Copper Mining Company of Adelaide, Mr. John Claffey, in a report dated the 19th January, 1926, states -
Everything depends on the quality of the sulphide ore to be met with after we pass the water level. Sulphide ore may not come in until we reach a depth of 200 feet.
Nothing but the pick and shovel will prove the value of the mine. While it is impossible to forecast the future, it is only reasonable to suppose that with such long and wide unbroken lengths and widths of ore widening out and getting richer for every foot of sinking done- that they will continue to widen and get richer, until sulphide or primary rock is reached;
If that does happen - and there is no scientific reason why, it should not - then this mine will rank as one of the rich mines of Australia.
We do not know what mineral wealth this country possesses. With the extension of the line in the direction proposed, valuable mineral deposits might be found, and another Kalgoorlie or Broken Hill discovered. I quote another authority, Mr.. Charles Winnecke, F.R.G.S., of Eagle Chambers, Pirie-street, Adelaide, who gave evidence before the Public Works Committee -
My experience of the Northern Territory, extends oyer 35 years.I have been astounded at. the frequent mention of desert country. My experience is that some of the finest pastoral country in the world is found in Central Australia. Water, principally artesian, is more abundant than supposed. Gold is scattered all through this vast area, one quartz range showing, gold for fully, 36 miles. The Orabarra Reef, in the Jervois and Tarlton Ranges, has never been visited by any white man but myself. Professor Tate and Experts Watt and Achimiovitch (members of the Horn expedition, of which. I was commander)., all. stated) that thebest indications of diamonds exist to the west of Charlotte Waters. Coal of good quality is found in the Macdonnell and more northern areas. It speaks for itself that more than a fourth of the Territory is settled with stations, mines, &c. I have no hesitation in declaring that it will be the finest and most remunerative country in Australia. The extent of auriferous country is simply unknown, and a railway would increase all these resources a hundredfold.. My past remarks on thefertility of the Northern Territory should be a guarantee that I am not in error.
This disproves the statement made by Senator Guthrie yesterday as to the nature of the country. I have been informed that in some parts of Central Australia wild camels and wild horses have becomea greater menace than the dingoes, so there must be ample feed and water. It is reasonable to suppose that if wild horses and. wild camels can thrive there the country can be developed for cattle and sheep.
– What part of the country is the honorable senator referring to?
– Country in the vicinity of Tennant’s Creek. People who have been living there for many years say that wild horses and camels abound there.
– That statement was made by a London newspaper recently, and was denied by the Government.
– I was not aware of that. I am merely repeating what I was told by a man who has been living there for many years, and who knows the country thoroughly. Ithas been said that to the west there is a large area of land better than that which will be served by this line. If that is correct there is no reason why, at a later date, the Government should not run light spur lines out to tap that good country, and serve people who may be living there. The pioneers in Central Australia are facing tremendous odds. The freight on commodities: from Oodnadatta to. Alice Springs is, I understand, about £.17 a ton.
– In wet weather it is as much as £38 a ton.
– We should do our best to help those people, and at the same time develop our country. Very few of the children living outback receive any education, except that which is imparted to them by their parent’s-, and as some of the: settlers have never been inside a school, the younger people have very little chance of education. This line should do a great deal to open up a vast area of good country , and in all prov- bability will lead to important mineral:. developments. There is nothing like the mining industry, if the prospects are attractive, to induce a flow of population into Central Australia. Senator Thomas commended the South Australian Government for constructing the line to Broken Hill. It is extremely probable that had that line not been built, Broken Hill would not have been fully developed. Central Australia holds the same promise, and, in my opinion, . there is every justification for the construction of this line. Senator Thomas declared that, although this proposal was mentioned in the Prime Minister’s policy speech, he was not necessarily bound to support it. All I can say is that since, according to Government supporters, the Ministry received a definite mandate from the country to pass certain legislation, they should stand by this portion of its programme and vote for the bill. In all probability Senator Thomas owes his presence in this chamber to his support “ of the Prime Minister’s policy speech. Therefore, he is in honour bound to vote for the railway, because in the programme of legislation placed before the people by the Prime Minister it was mentioned in these terms -
The question of the extension of the railway to Alice Springs has been the subjectmatter of negotiation between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of the State of South Australia. The construction of this line is an obligation of the Commonwealth under the Northern Territory Surrender Act, which was passed in 1910, the carrying out of which has been too long delayed. Agreement has now, however, been arrived at between the two Governments, and subject to the concurrence of the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and South Australia, -this work will be proceeded with in accordance with the agreement.
Does Senator Thomas tate the view that he is not bound by the policy speech of his leader. I have no doubt that during the election campaign he declared his intention, if elected, to ‘support the Prime Minister and assist him to place on the statutebook the legislative measures outlined by that right honorable gentleman. The Government, we have been told, received a definite mandate from the people of Australia to go ahead with its programme, and we expect Government supporters to vote for the construction of this railway. When I made any disparaging remarks during the election, concerning the Bruce-Page Ministry, I was met sometimes with the statement that it had promised to construct the north-south railway. When I asked if people intended to support the Government candidates for that reason, I was reminded that South Australia had been waiting for a long time, and as the two Governments had made an agreement, there was a prospect of the work being started at an early date. There can be no doubt that ministerial candidates, in South Australia at all events, were materially helped by the Prime Minister’s announcement, and I hope Government supporters will now stand by the bill.
Senator NEWLAND (South Australia) T5.47]. - I do not intend to take up a great deal of time in discussing the measure, which,. I am glad to know, has been favorably received. Whilst the majority of. honorable senators who have taken part in the .debate may not be quite satisfied with the details of the bill, I believe they intend to support it. It has been said that the measure is long overdue. I do not regard it as overdue to the people of South Australia, so much as overdue to the people who have settled in that portion of Australia which now belongs to the Commonwealth. Yesteran honorable senator said that the South Australian representatives had for years been whining and crying about this railway. We have not been whining and crying about it at all. We have simply been asking the representatives of the people of Australia to fulfil a promise made, not only ‘to the people of South Australia, but also to the people of the Northern Territory, when it was transferred to the Commonwealth. It is within the recollection of most honorable senators that,- during the last twelve years, I have been consistently advocating the development of the Territory, and particularly the construction of this railway, without which it is impossible to expect any progress. The suggested railways in the northern part of the Territory will develop only a small portion of that vast area. It is beyond my comprehension how honorable senators, who have had the opportunity to study maps, plans and literature, can say that a railway line in the northern and tropical portion of the Territory will lead to development on an extensive scale. Their attitude only shows that they must have something more in view than the development of the Northern Territory. The agitation for the extension of this line has been carried on for a number of years. It did not begin when the administration of the Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth; it has been going on ever since the overland telegraph line, that very great undertaking which South Australia carried out so successfully, was built. To those who say that South Australia did nothing to develop the Territory, I point out that it constructed the overland telegraph line when its population numbered only 300,000. Any fairminded person must admit that that was a considerable undertaking for such a handful of people. Shortly afterwards, the railway was built to Oodnadatta, a distance of 688 miles; and 146 miles of line were laid from Darwin to Pine Creek. That also was a big undertaking for a handful of people. There was no intention on the part of the people of South Australia to extend the line at either end into any other State. As Senator Barwell pointed out last night, it would have been impossible for the State of South Australia to continue one of its lines into another State without first obtaining the permission of that State. At that time, interstate jealousies were very pronounced, and the feeling was such that no State would countenance such an idea. Therefore, the suggestion that the people of South Australia and the Northern Territory did not intend this railway to be built directly north and south will not hold good for one moment. I shall not search the historical records very deeply, but there are one or two points that may, with advantage, be referred to. Senator Thomas tendered the advice that we should deal with this railway on its merits, and not in the light of any supposed undertaking or promise. Instead of acting upon his own advice, the honorable senator devoted the remainder of his speech .to the argument that no promise had been given to South Australia at any time. It has been argued that the proposed route should not be adopted, because it goes through country that is worthless. I have known for 40 years the country from Quorn to Oodnadatta. Over a period of twenty years I visited it at least once, and sometimes twice, a year. I have seen it under all conditions -at times when it was as barren of feed as the floor of this chamber, and at other times when it was a veritable garden of Eden, a picture of beauty, with feed up to the knees of the cattle. The conditions there are precisely the same as those encountered in every other portion of Australia: it is equally subject to both drought and floods. There is. however, this remarkable difference, that there the herbage shoots up so quickly that one can almost see it growing. That is a characteristic of the whole of the northern portion of Australia. T point out to those honorable senators who condemn the proposed route, that for 40 year? every animal, from a goat to a camel, that went to the Northern Territory, was taken along the route of the existing railway, with the result that it has been eaten , out and trodden down. The Afghan hawking his wares, the navvy with hu little flock of goats, the stockman with his cattle, have all helped to make it almost a scene of desolation. But when one deviates from the railway for some little distance one can see what the country is capable of growing. I have no desire to paint the picture in glowing colours, but I can say that nothing is surer than that that country will frequently be seen in the flourishing condition in which I have so often seen it. An index to the prosperity of a country is its rainfall. We have heard quite a lot regarding the rainfall at different points along the proposed route and the route suggested by others who oppose it. I desire to direct attention to, the rainfall at different points along the route that is favoured by Senators Guthrie, Thomas, and Cox. An appendix to the report of the Standing Committee on Public Works shows that at Marree the average annual rainfall over a period of 35 years was 6.10 inches. The maximum fall was 10.07 inches, and the minimum fall 2.21 inches. Marree would be the starting point of the route suggested by Senators Guthrie and Thomas. At Oodnadatta the average annual rainfall over a period of 29 years was 4.83 inches; the maximum 11.19 inches, and the minimum 1.16 inches. Although Senator Guthrie, and those who hold similar views, claim that Oodnadatta is in desert country, its rainfall is not very much less than that at Marree, of which they hold such a high opinion. Let us take Charlotte Waters, ton the border of the Northern Territory and South Australia. The average annual rainfall there over a period of 47 years was 5.55 inches; the maximum 1-2.31 inches, and the minimum 1.16 inches. At Arltunga the average over a period of 20 years was 11.54 inches, the maximum 21.67 inches, and the mininium 5.89 inches. Brunette Downs, in Queensland, where the country is supposed to be wonderfully good, is one of the most prosperous stations on the Queensland border. The committee of which I was a member was almost bogged there. I agree that if youhappen to arrive there during a wet spell you cannot getaway until the rain ceases. Its average annual rainfall over a period of 25 years was 14.95 inches, the maximum 32.96 . inches, and the minimum 3.35 inches. At Camooweal, just acrossthe border, in Queensland, on the southern edgeof the Barkly Tablelands, the average annual rainfall over a period of 29 years was 16.23 inches, the maximum 32.27 inches, and the minimum 6.52 inches. That is not very much better than Oodnadatta.
– With a rainfall of 32 inches, could not water be conserved in dams?
– It is hardly possible to conserve the water, because the ground will not retain it, but water is to be found at shallow depths almost in any part of that country.
– Is there water along the proposed route?
– Yes . It may be struck at Alice Springs at from 6 to 20 feet. It occurs at shallow depths over an extended area. Lake Nash is a very prosperous station on the Queensland border. Its average rainfall, over a period of 23 years, was 14.58 inches. The maximum annual reading was 32.54 inches, and the minimum 1.84 inches. Following the route from Marree to Camooweal via Birdsville, which Senator Guthrie and one or two others favour, I now come to Boulia. The average annual rainfall there for a period of 34 years was 11.60 inches the maximum being 25.74 inches, andthe minimum 0.95 inches. These figures apply to the wonderfully fertile Queensland country of which we have heard so much! Now take Birdsville, which I am sure is the last place that
God made. Theaverage annual rainfall, over a period of 23 years, was 7.13 inches, the maximum being 21.33 inches, and the minimum 1.31 inches. At Mungerannie, which is a cattle station, the average rainfall, for . 23 years, was 5.38 inches, the maximum being 12.09 inches, and the minimum 1.19 inches. There I -met a gentleman named Crombie, who had been living in the country for about 40 years, but has since died. He had reared a large family, and had sent three or four sons to the war. He was a most desirable class of settler. He told members of the Public Works Committee that every year he had had to take his stock away from his own property and find pasture for them wherever he could. Yet he stuck to his holding. On two occasions, when the Cooper and Diamantina came down in flood and spread over 50 or 60 miles of country, this man’s homestead was washed away. He stated in evidence before the committee that whatever wasdone, we should not think of building a railway from Marree to Birdsville, because the country did not warrant it. He added that all that was required was a reasonablemail service and telegraphic and telephonic facilities. What is the use of any honorable senator saying that a railway should be built through such a country as that when the residents themselves have admitted ‘that it does not warrant a line?
– Surely thehonorable senator knows that the advocates of the easterly deviation want the line to go on toCamooweal.
– The honorable senator desires all thetraffic to be taken to the little village known as Sydney, irrespective of whether or not it would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth as a whole. I now propose, for a moment, to speak of the grasses in the country to be served by this railway, because, next to water, the most important requirement of cattle is feed. The question was raised by Senator Guthrie as to what kind of grasses grew there. I intend toquote from a report, written in 1902, by the late Mr. David Lindsay, with whose splendid work in the Northern Territory, where he spent the greater part of his life, every Australian is acquainted. I consider that his report is much more valuable than Mr. Waddell’s, which Senator Cox has been following so closely. Mr. Lindsay, after dealing with the physical features of this country, went on to describe the herbage in these words: -
The whole of this vast country may be described as a luxuriantly grassed country, much of it, especially the country on the Herbert, James, Buchanan, Rankine, Playford; and Brunette creeks, and the head of the Cres1well Creek, can scarcely be surpassed, so far as my experience goes, in Australia.
– That is not exactly on the route of this railway.
– The Herbert, James, Rankine, and Playford Creeks are practically on the route. Mr. Lindsay, continuing, said -
It is equal to some of the finest country on. the Cooper in Queensland. The grasses arc chiefly the Mitchell, which is too well known and appreciated to need description. Scarcely second in importance is the red grass, which is a hardy leafy variety, standing the dry weather well; at certain times of the year the stock prefer it to the Mitchell grass. There is also a species of barley grass - a vigorousgrowing variety with a corn-like seed. The much-favoured. Flinders grass was noticed occasionally.
Then he described the edible bushes as roley-poley, mungeroo, acacias, whitewood, Landsborough pines, gidyea and currant bushes, which make up an excellent list of good fodder plants. He concluded by saying -
I have no hesitation- in expressing my opinion that this country is eminently adapted to wool-growing, and sheep will do well, there being sufficient shade trees scattered over the country. The grasses are short and free from injurious seeds.
I admit that when members of the Public Works Committee passed through the country the season was favorable, but the grasses and top feed now to be found there could be described in precisely the same language that was employed in Mr. Lindsay’s report. There is ample feed for cattle and sheep, but in sheep raising it would ‘be necessary to use wire netting. The settlers who run sheep at the present time have to employ blacks to shepherd them,” and have to yard the flocks overnight. The traveling involved in yarding has a bad effect on not only the ‘sheep themselves, but also the wool, which becomes dirty arid depreciates in value. The running of sheep cannot be seriously considered until railway facilities are provided. It took two years to cart the boiler for the battery at Arltunga1, from Oodnadatta to its destination. It fell off the vehicle on which it was being transported, and it could not be recovered from the creek into which it fell until the water had subsided. I am pleading in the interests of the genuine settlers, not the wealthy merchants of Adelaide or Sydney, but the men who have put their heart into the pioneering work of the Territory, and are undertaking responsibilities that many- men in the cities would not dare to face. Senator Guthrie himself declared that he would not take up any of this country, even if it- were given to him rent free for 50 years. Of course he would not, because he has not the heart to do what these men are doing; but he ought to be prepared to give them a fair deal. Now as to minerals. I have a record of the result of the treatment of samples ‘and parcels of ore from the Arltunga and White Range goldfields. I think it is worth while quoting a few of the assays made 25 years ago. Taking them at random, I notice that five samples returned from 2 to 8 dwt. of gold a ton ; seven samples 1 oz. to 1 oz. 18 dwt. ; four samples, 4 oz. to 4 oz. 16 dwt.; seven samples, 6 oz. 15 dwt. to 8 oz. 16 dwt.; one sample, 11 oz. 8 dwt., and 14 dwt. of silver; and one sample, 21 oz. 9 dwt. and 1 oz. 16 dwt. of silver. These samples were put through the battery at Arltunga and the results were certified by the manager as correct. I now propose to give some figures relating to the treatment of bulk parcels of ore. A tributer at the White Range Block forwarded 10 tons 16 cwt. of ore, and the return was 11 oz. 6 dwt. 5 gr. of gold, valued at £43 9s ‘. 5d. Another parcel of 209 tons 14 cwt. 1 qr. of ore yielded 472 oz. 11 dwt. 6 gr. of gold, valued at £1,820 4s. 4d. Still another had 20 tons 13 qrs. 2 cwt. treated, which yielded 35 oz. 6 dwt. 15 gr. of gold, valued at £100 7s. lOd. Those are some of the large crushings. There is just one- small crushing that I would like to mention. This tributer sent 11 tons to the battery. It yielded 26 oz. 18 dwt. 3 gr. of gold, valued -at £106 19s. 3d.
– Those are not exceptional yields for picked stone.
– Even so, I must ask the honorable senator to remember that those prospectors had to work with wretched appliances. They had to burrow in the earth like rabbits. Their only equipment, as a rule, was a pick, a gouge, ti hammer, and a chisel. There was no system whatever in their mining. They were 6SS miles from Adelaide, and between 400 and 500 miles from the railhead, and as they could not get proper tools, they simply followed the reef as best they could. In many cases they would work long enough to earn a good cheque, and then go off “on the spree” until it was spent. Then they would earn another, and spend it. But they are all dead now. I have no doubt whatever that, given reasonable facilities, and a 200 or even 500-head battery, instead of the 5 or 10-head stamp battery, that those men had, this field would make wonderful development. One of the reasons why the railway should go to Alice Springs, and not through the wilderness to Birdsville, is that it would provide reasonable facilities for any miners who wished to attempt the development of this country. In our peregrinations, we went out to the Musgrave Ranges, off the Queensland border. Many years ago a man named Allan Davidson, who was looking for another Bonanza, prospected for three years in this country. His reports may be found in the records of the Northern Territory. I have no doubt that some of them may be had in our own library, or in the Commonwealth offices. Nothing less than 10 oz. to the ton would satisfy him. He discovered rock that yielded 3 oz. We passed some of his old workings at Hatch’s Creek. A man who had been prospecting there for two years was reported recently in the South Australian Register to have made some wonderful finds.
– How far is this country from the proposed railway?
– It took us three weeks, travelling sometimes by buggy, sometimes by horseback, and sometimes by foot over very rough country, to reach the farthest point we went to in the ranges.” These mineral-bearing areas run to about 150 miles east from Barrow’s Creek, which would be on the railway line.
– Then the line would not be of much use to them?
– Oh, yes it would. The people there do not regard 150 miles as a very great distance. If they had a railway at . Barrow’s Creek, for instance, they would be quite near, and could get their material from the railways to their works, and their produce from their works to the markets. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.26 to S p.m.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I have no apologies to offer for introducing an amending Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Bill since, in my opinion, it is long overdue. The object of the measure is to bring our legislation in this respect up to date. The Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act has been in operation for fourteen years, and during that period conditions have changed to such an extent that State Parliaments have amended their compensation acts from time to time. The principle of compensation to workmen when injured, or to their dependants in the event of death as the’ result of injury, is not . at issue, as all political, parties in Australia are, I believe, in favor of compensation being paid in such circumstances. As a result of altered conditions, the State Parliaments have increased the amount of compensation payable to injured workmen, and to the dependants of persons whose injuries result in death. There are on the Commonwealth statute-book, and also on the statute-books of the different States, measures which relate to the human element, and workmen’s compensation legislation deals with the casualties which occur in the industrial arena. In this regard the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act, as passed in 1912, is woefully behind the legislation of the States, and also that of Great Britain and America. In all legislation, particularly that of a social nature, this Parliament should be equal to, if not in advance of, the State Parliaments..
– Why in advance? The same principle should apply all round.
– We should act as a model to others. In the matter of social legislation we should set an example to the States, but in this instance I am merely endeavouring to bring our workmen’s compensation law up to the standard adopted by the State Parliaments. The amending legislation I am asking the Senate to consider is designed to bring the Commonwealth law into line not only with the States’ law, but with legislation of a similar character in operation in other parts of the world. The main features of the bill are to provide for - (1) Increase in total amount of compensation; (2) compensation to workmen dying from or affected by certain industrial or occupational diseases; (3) compensation for loss of or injury to an eye, limb or parts thereof, paralysis of limbs or loss of mental power; (4) increase in burial and sickness expenses; and (5) to ensure that an injured workman shall receive not less than 50 per cent. of the weekly wage he was earning prior to injury. Those are the main features of the bill. Whilst compensation for loss of limb or a part of a limb will be a new feature as far as Commonwealth workmen’s compensation legislation is concerned, it is by no means new under State laws. The Western Australian Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1924 provides for that which I am endeavouring to incorporate in our Commonwealth law, and the measure I am submitting is based largely, if not entirely, upon that measure. The feature of securing to the injured workman at least one-half of his weekly wage is incorporated in the State acts, but is not embodied in the Federal law. When I was employed in the shipbuilding yards on the Clyde, in 1897, the House of Commons passed the first Workmen’s Compensation Act, and that measure paved the way in granting compensation to workmen injured during their employment. Honorable senators will realize that it is very necessary to have such legislation. Prior to its introduction, it was difficult for a workman injured during his employment to receive compensation unless he could prove his claim either at common law or under the Employers Liability Act.
– Most, if not all, of the States have a Workmen’s Compensation Act.
– All of them, also New Zealand and America. The Commonwealth Government has the same responsibility to its employees as have private employers.
– Does it relate to Commonwealth employees only?
– We cannot legislate for other than those employed by the Commonwealth.
– Does it mean double compensation?
– No. An employee of the Commonwealth cannot be otherwise employed. No man can serve two masters.
– He would be employed in a State.
– Only as a Commonwealth employee.
-The States have compensation legislation.
– Yes, to cover workmen employed in industries operating within a State, and under the State law private employers are compelled to pay compensation to their employees when injured.
– A State Government could not compel the Commonwealth Government to compensate Commonwealth employees.
– That is so. The Commonwealth Government is an employer, and the Commonwealth Parliament, by its act passed in 1912, provided that employees of the Government when injured should receive compensation during a period of total or partial incapacity, and that, in the event of death, compensation should be paid to the dependants of the deceased.
– Can Commonwealth employees obtain benefits under State acts?
– No ; they are employed by the Commonwealth.
– Will they be under more than one act?
– No; the Commonwealth and State acts do not conflict in any way.
– Would a Commonwealth employee who, while engaged, say, in undergrounding telephone wires, met with an accident, come under the State law ?
– No. He would be a Commonwealth employee, and, as such would receive compensation under the Commonwealth law. Mr. W. French, chairman of the Industrial Accident Commission of California, has given his views under several headings. He says that workers’ compensation legislation, .to be adequate, should have regard to these considerations : -
These are the views of an eminent man, well versed in workers’ compensation problems. - Most of the provisions mentioned have been incorporated in the laws of the United States of America. The principal act which this bill seeks to amend does not go nearly as far as the legislation in the United States of America. The following statement sets out in detail the provisions of the Commonwealth act, the law in the’ several States and New Zealand, as well as in England : -
– The maximum payment in South Australia has been increased.
– This amending bill proposes to raise the maximum payable for death to £600, and to increase the burial payments from £30 to- £100.
– Does the bill provide for medical examination in the case of industrial occupational diseases?
– Yes, it also provides that, in the case of total or partial incapacity, an employee of the Commonwealth Government,’ who at present is entitled to receive an amount “not exceeding “ 50. per cent. . of his weekly wage shall be entitled to receive “ not less than “ 50 per cent. of that amount during the period of disablement. There is, further, a provision for the payment of compensation in the event of the loss ofa limb or any part of a limb. To demonstrate that the Commonwealth law is very much behind the time, I quote the following figures from the United States of America Bulletin No. 333 -
I have quoted those figures in order that honorable senators may, when they come to discuss the bill, have in their possession all the information that is available. I may be asked, “Why do you desire to provide for the granting of compensation for the loss of a limb or portion of a limb, one eye or both eyes, the total or the partial loss of hearing?” Frequently the breadwinner who is so injured becomes a permanent burden upon his family. Although we cannot assess the value of human life, such accidents often have a worse effect upon the family than others that have fatal results. In many occupations the loss of a finger or an arm will throw a man out of employment altogether. The loss of a finger would be more injurious to a compositor, for example, than to a man whose occupation required him to use a pick or a hammer. It is, therefore, imperative to adopt this schedule in order to make provision for these injuries. Fifty thousand workmen are employed by the Commonwealth in various callings. In the General Division of the Public Service are men who are engaged in underground telephone work, mining, work, and sewer work. In conservative England the minimum compensation is £200, and the maximum £600, the amount being as sessed on the basis of the age of the employee and the number of his dependent children under the age of fifteen years. That is another illustration of the fact that the Commonwealth workmen’s compensation law . is a long way behind the times. I come now to industrial diseases. Honorable senators may wonder why 1 desire to include those diseases in the amending measure. In 1924, a conference, consisting of representatives of the different States, was convened by the Commonwealth Government to consider the question of industrial hygiene. The Commonwealth representatives were Dr. Park, Acting . Director-General of Health, and Dr.Robertson, Director of Industrial Hygiene. The Western Australian representatives were Dr. Atkinson, Commissioner of Public Health, and Mr. Bradshaw. After having sat for many days, the conference recommended that industrial or occupational diseases should be included in the compensation schedule. . The Western Australian representatives presented the following report to their Government : -
The last question dealt with was the important one of industrial disease, or diseases ofoccupation, and the control of dangerous andunhealthy industries. It will, no doubt, be of interest to you to know that the conference unhesitatingly and unanimously passed the following resolutions in regard to occupational disease: -
That it is desirable that each State of the Commonwealth should have in effective operation legislation controlling occupations dangerous to the health of those employed therein; and
That every Australian State should afford compensation for industrial diseases.
It was the view of all members of the conference that the worker who loses his life, or suffers incapacity as a result of occupational disease, is entitled to compensation . equally with him who meets with death or injury by accident. The legislation already in some of the States was reviewed, and a list drawn up of these occupational diseases in regard to whichit was considered compensation should be payable. This list has already been submitted to you. It is possible that only a few of these occupational diseases will concern this Statefor some time to come, but as industry develops they may become increasingly important. Certain mining diseases mentioned in the schedule are, however, of special import to this State, but if we are to have a uniform legislation throughout Australia, the list should be complete, and the legislation competent to deal with any of those diseases that may arise from time to time. Whilst compensation is therefore considered just and desirable, it is the duty, of the State to prevent the occurrence of industrial disease as far as lies in its power, and for this reason it must have the necessary statistics to show where and how it has arisen, and the machinery to prevent its continuance or recurrence. The conference, therefore, recommends that the diseases specified in a schedule should be notifiable to the Commissioner of Public Health, whose organization, working -in co-operation with the Department of Labour, may investigate causes and institute preventive measures. In most of the States some legislation for notification and compensation of industrial disease has. been in operation, but in none, with the exception of New South Wales,, does the comprehensive range recommended by the conference appear to have been covered. Certain further points in regard to legislation contemplated by you have already been submitted, following our inquiries in the eastern States, and it is presumed that their repetition is not desired here.
– Is the schedule in the honorable senator’s bill identical with the list prepared by that conference ?
– It does not entirely follow the list prepared by the. conference, but it adopts a portion of the Workmen’s Compensation Act of Western Australia, which was passed consequent upon the report that I have just quoted. I have not introduced in its entirety the list recommended by the conference, because some of the industrial or occupational diseases with which it dealt are subject to State laws that cover all classes of occupations. I have endeavoured to cover industrial or occupational diseases in occupations that are followed by employees of the Commonwealth Government. Honorable senators will see that Commonwealth employees are liable to contract any of the occupational diseases that are mentioned in the schedule.
– Has every State legislation dealing with occupational diseases ?
– I ‘ know that such legislation is in force in Western Australia and Queensland.
– And in New South Wales.
– The Queensland legislation is much more comprehensive than that of any State, and the compensation for which it provides extends over, a wider range than the compensation payable under the legislation of any of the other States. No matter how” careful a man may be in his observance of personal cleanliness and hygienic laws, he cannot fully protect himself against the germs of diseases that are prevalent in certain occupations. In. ordinary industries he can, by care, prevent injury, not only to himself, but also to his comrades. Honorable senators know perfectly well that in many industries the carelessness of an employee frequently endangers, not only his only life and limb, but also the lives and limbs of his comrades. Whilst that conference, which was representative of all the States and the Commonwealth, recommended that the States should take certain action to protect employees from the ravages of occupational diseases, the Commonwealth Parliament has not so far adopted similar precautions. This is a matter above all party considerations, since these diseases often render workmen incapable of activity when they should be in the full vigour of manhood. The list of diseases set out in the bill is based largely on the schedule approved by the conference; I wrote to the Treasurer (Dr, Earle Page) and to the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) to ascertain the number of employees affected by the workmen’s compensation law of the Commonwealth, and the sum of money that had been expended by the Commonwealth in payment of compensation for the period during which the principal act had been in operation. I was advised by the Department of Works and Railways that the information could be obtained from the Treasury, and as late as this afternoon I received from the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. C. J. Cerutty) the following communication: -
Dear Sir, -
Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act 1912.
In reply to your letters of the 22nd January and 18th January (addressed to the Honorable the Minister for Works and Railways), I inclose a statement containing the information for which you asked.
The statement is as follows: -
– Thepresent act does not provide for occupational diseases. .
– No. The amending bill deals with two very important phases, but the statement I have read shows that from 1913 to 1924, the amount of compensation paid to employees and to dependants of deceased employees, increased from £1,060 to £12,152. There is a possibility that because of the inclusion of compensation for. the loss of a limb, or part of a limb, the compensation payable to employees becoming incapacitated owing to industrial diseases will be increased. But even that should not deter Parliament from passing the bill. While some of the features are new to the principal act they are not new in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, New Zealand, or even the United States of America. Commonwealth legislation should be kept at least abreast, if not in advance, of that of other parts of the world.I think that the Government realizes the necessity for this measure, and I am surprised that there was no reference to it among the proposed social measures mentioned in the Governor-General’s speech. The legislation of some of the States in regard to this matter having gone ahead of that of the Commonwealth since 1912, it is necessary for us to put our house in order. I ask honorable senators to give the bill full, fair, and favorable consideration.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilson) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 656).
.- At the dinner adjournment, I was dealing with that belt of auriferous country lying between Barrow
Creek and Tennant’s Creek, and I had given some brief outline of ‘the prospect of discovering large mineral fields there. In addition to. gold there are to be found, on Wauchope Creek and -Hatcher’s Creek, minerals such as Sheelite, wolfram, bismuth, copper, iron, &c. It is well within the bounds of possibility that a Mount Morgan, a Kalgoorlie, or a Broken Hill may be found in the great Musgrave Ranges., within 150 or 200 miles of the rail-head at Alice Springs. I understand that .the Government desires to push on with this bill, and, therefore, I do not now propose to refer to many of the matters that I intended to mention. But when statements not in accordance with fact are made, it is important to place the facts before honorable senators. To one or two of those statements I feel bound to refer. Senator Guthrie remarked that all the pioneers of the Macdonnell Ranges country had become insolvent. So far as I know, that statement cannot be borne out in a- single instance. The contrary is the fact. The majority of the men who settled there had but little capital. After struggling for many years they made a competency. Those that are still there are also making a good living. Had Senator Guthrie known the circumstances a little -more accurately, he would not have made ‘so many misleading statements. He asserted that it was dangerous for persons to go into that country, on the strength qf reports by theorists, newspaper writers and persons who visited it in motor cars. Presumably he meant by -the persons who went there in motor-cars, the members of the Public Works Committee. I wish to assure him that the members of that committee did not submit their own views -in their report on this country. They expressed the opinions of the persons whose evidence had been taken on oath, and who had lived there, in most instances, for many years. In the course of his speech, Senator Guthrie said that the firm with which he is connected had recently sold two properties 33 miles from Marree, which, -T point out, is some hundreds of miles from the route of the proposed railway. The properties comprised .1,025 square miles of country., 3 bores, tanks, plenty of lakes and swamps in wet weather, 1,000 head .of cattle, 80S horses and some goats. For the whole of the property, only £5,000 was obtained. I respectfully suggest to the honorable senator’s firm that they should change their land salesman. Probably plenty of salesmen would have sold that property much more advantageously to the firm. I can quote the case of a sale in the far north very different from that mentioned by the honorable senator. The late Mr. Breadon, who was one of the oldest pioneers in the country, had two stations, one at Todmorden and the other at Hen.bury. near the route of this propoesd line. He is now dead, but the executors of his estate sold these two properties for £50,000. Mr. Breadon grew there some of the finest cattle .ever produced in the north and managed all his own affairs. In evidence given before the committee he said -
We can usually carry five head to the mile. I am holding 2,600 square miles at present, carrying 4,000 head of* cattle and 1,600 horses. I could double that, but as soon as a drought came I would have to send them” away as I can only carry 2£ to the square mile in drought times. This season is exceptional and I could put on ten to the mile.
It is rather extraordinary that the property in which Senator Guthrie was interested should have been sold for £5,000, while that owned by Mr. Breadon sold for £50,000. Before I resume my seat .1 must make my position clear on the matter of the gauge of the proposed line. As honorable- senators know, the railways of Queensland and Western Australia are on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge and so are all those of South Australia north of Peterborough. The position, therefore, is that all the railways in Australia north of a given point are of the same gauge. You, Mr. President, have travelled on 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railways in South Africa, and I have travelled on them in other parts of the world. The Broken Hill to Port Pirie railway, which carries probably the heaviest traffic of any in Australia, is on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. There has “ .never been any delay on that line, nor has there been any difficulty in handling goods. In all these circumstances, I feel that I must give my hearty support to the Government proposal to build this line on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. If Queensland or Western Australia wishes to tap the direct northsouth line at any time, there will be no gauge difficulty. J wish to make it quite clear that I should have no objec-tion whatever to Queensland or Western
Australia tapping the north-south line at as many points as they liked. The proposed narrow-gauge line will serve all the needs of the Northern Territory for 50 years to come. The amount of money that will.be saved in interest payments alone, as against the cost of the 4-ft. 8^-in. line, from the time the railway is constructed until it may be necessary to convert it to the standard gauge will, in my opinion, more than meet the cost of the conversion when it becomes necessary. We hope that’ by that time Australia will have a’ population of 20,000,000. We shall then be better able to afford the cost ‘ of conversion than we are to-day. While I heartily believe in a uniform gauge for all our Australian railways, I think the Commonwealth is in much the same position that South Australia found herself in when she had to call a halt in the construction of the north-south railway at Oodnadatta. She had no1 money to go further ; and the Commonwealth, notwithstanding its earnest desire to convert all our railways to the standard gauge, has not at present the money to do so. I commend the Government for having introduced this bill. I trust that it will speedily become law. I hope that I may live to see the day when the line will stretch from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek and be tapped at many points en route by the State railways which run through the better areas in the east in Queensland, and the equally good country to the west in Western Australia. I confidently expect to see realized the developments that I have predicted for the Northern Territory. It will, I believe, become a prosperous and well-populated country, and a great asset of the Commonwealth. I have very much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– My contribution to the debate will not be lengthy. The gauge of the proposed line is the chief matter on which I wish to address myself. I should like, first, to put Senator Drake-Brockman right on one point. He stated that because the construction of this line was mentioned in the Prime Minister’s policy speech, honorable senators who support the Government were bound hand and foot to vote for it. I wish to remind the honorable senator that while he is preaching that doctrine to-day he may not be so ready to endorse it a little later on. According to the Prime Minister’s policy speech, we shall be required soon to consider questions affecting the tariff. Judging from Senator Drake-Brockman’s past attitude, I can hardly see him subscribing, without protest, to every tariff proposal that the Government may introduce. 1 have, no doubt that he will demur at some of them. All “that honorable senators who support the Government are obliged to do in connexion with the bill now under discussion is to support the principle it contains. I claim that on such matters as the nature of the line to be constructed, and the route to be followed, we are as free as the air. A great deal of discussion has centred round this subject for many years. I suppose no matter has been so persistently brought under public notice. For the last fifteen or sixteen years, at any rate, it has been, canvassed and discussed from time to time in. Parliament. Having heard most of the arguments both for and against this particular proposal, I have come to the conclusion that we must deal with the matter according to the provisions of the agreement contained in. the schedule of the Northern Territory Acceptance 1910. In those circumstances I must support the principle of the bill. I can. quite understand the attitude of some honorable senators from South Australia, who have been restive because of quotations from former Cabinet Ministers and private members of Parliament in favour of some other than the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs route. Most of us have had sufficient experience of party politics to realize that the Opposition frequently thinks that the Government has made a bad bargain and loses no opportunity of saying so. That seems to me to be what has happened here. But, after all, the question that should be determined is: What does the agreement provide? In discussing this matter, all sorts of authorities have been quoted. Prime Ministers and ex-Prime Ministers, Premiers and ex-Premiers, King’s counsellors and Privy councillors have been in the list. “ I do not’ know whether a V.C. has been quoted, but I am of the opinion that the perseverance of honorable senators from South Australia in dealing with this matter merits some special recognition. Although I intend to support the principle of the bill I am at variance with the
Government on the matter of the gauge. Clause 7 of the bill reads : “ The gauge of the railway shall be three feet six inches.” Those eleven mischievous words will be productive of eleven sources of trouble for this country. Australia is more or less committed to the adoption of the standard gauge of 4 ft. 81/2 in. It might almost be said that the world was ransacked before we really adopted that gauge. As a result of the most mature consideration of the problem by experts of the Commonwealth and the States, it has been decided that a standard gauge of 4-ft. 81/2-in. is the most suitable for the Commonwealth. That being so, it is quite clear that, in proposing to construct this line in the heart of Australia on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, we are going directly against the recommendation of those who have, by conscientious effort, endeavoured to fix upon the best gauge for Australia to adopt. In selecting the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge for this line, we are practically fixing the gauge for the whole of the remaining 600 miles to be constructed later. I contend that in the circumstances a start should be made by constructing a line on the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge. Apart altogether from the anticipated increase in population and the development that will follow railway construction, the figures show that weshould grasp the nettle boldly and construct this railway on the standard gauge, which the highest authorities have advised us to adopt. The proposal of the Government is to construct a narrow gauge railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs at an estimated cost of £1,700,000. The. Public Works Committee, in reporting on this proposal, has stated that a line constructed with 60-lb. rails could be built at an estimated cost of £3,192,690. As an alternative, a further estimate was obtained from the Commonwealth railway officials for the construction of a light low level line on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge with steep momentum grades, using secondhand rails, fastenings, and sleepers. This, it was estimated, would cost £1,410,660. Allowing, say, £200,000 for rolling stock, it would bring the total cost, exclusive of working expenses, up to £1,600,000. The committee has also supplied some interesting figures on the cost of constructing a railway from Oodnadatta to the Katherine River, a distance of 1,018 miles, and has shown very clearly that a line on a 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge for that distance would cost approximately £11,013,785. For a railway over the same route, on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, the estimated cost has been set down at £9,962,317, or approximately only £1,000,000 less. These figures help us to form some conclusions as to the difference in the costs of the two types. According to the calculations of the committee, the additional cost of adopting the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge for the line we are now considering would only be £300,000. Some estimates have also been prepared of the cost of building a railway between Marree and Katherine River, a distance of 1,220 miles, the line in this case leaving the Territory, and after passing through the western portion of Queensland, returning into it, and terminating at the Katherine River. The cost of a 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge over that route is given as £12,974,382, whereas, on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, over the same distance, the cost would be £11,593,038. On the same basis, the extra cost involved in adopting the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge on the short line now proposed, would be about £320,000. I should like to be told where the advantage is to be derived in adhering to the 3-ft. 6in. gauge. I shall be informed, I suppose, that the proposed line will cost only £1,700,000, but I have not yet been shown that the type of line selected is the best that can be adopted, particularly having regard to the fact that it will ultimately be a transcontinental line. If it is to serve the purpose of a transcontinental railway it should be constructed for that purpose. As the country is developed, I believe an immense amount of traffic will be carried, including large consignments of stock which will be despatched to the southern markets. It is well known that high speeds cannot be reached on narrow-gauge railways. If the line were constructed on the standard gauge it would be possible to run stock through to Adelaide in about two days, whereas under the proposed arrangement they will have to be transferred at Port Augusta with consequent inconvenience and loss to the owners. If this railway is to become part of a transcontinental line, as I believe it will eventually be - if it is to be an important artery of traffic, meeting the needs of the travelling public, and also of those transporting stock and general goods - it should be of the standard gauge, particularly as the difference in cost is not very great. What is happening in other countries ? I have before- me a list of the different gauges in use in other parts of the world, and I find that the type which I am proposing is the most popular. Only 6 per cent, of the world’s railway mileage is on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, 7 per cent, on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and 65 per cent, on the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, which is the gauge recommended as the standard for Australia. Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Servia, and China have all adopted the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, as also have Canada, and the United States of America, which heads the list with 207,000 miles of railway. In Mexico, and even in Algiers, it has been adopted. Forty years ago America was confronted with the difficulty of carrying on her transport operations with six or seven gauges, but she faced the situation boldly, unified her gauges, and has never gone back on that policy.
– What was the mileage of the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge on American railways at that time ?
– It is 207,000 miles now, but I do not know what it was 40 years ago. Other countries are abandoning the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge; why are we adhering to it. Later I intend to test the committee on this point. In considering modern developments we are forced to the conclusion that in 20 years, or even in ten years’, time, the means of transport may have completely changed. Have honorable senators considered what has been achieved in the direction of aerial transport? Aerial transport was first undertaken by Germans in 1911, and it was developing very rapidly at the outbreak of war when all their efforts were thrust aside in face of a more stern endeavour. At that time no less than 34,000 passengers carried had been carried by air, and not a single life had been lost. To-day every capital in Europe is linked up with aerial services, which are being extended even to Morocco and other portions of Africa, as well as to Turkey and Mesopotamia. All this progress has been made within fifteen years of the time when aerial navigation was generally re garded as a doubtful proposition. At . present there is great activity in the Mother Country. The authorities there are constructing an airship with a capacity of 5,000,000 cubic feet, with high powered engines, and accommodation for 200 passengers. It is possible that before many years have elapsed airships of this description will be bringing passengers to Australia. Commander Boothby, Eellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, in an address before members of the Imperial Institute recently stated -
It looks as though a beginning would be made shortly with the Australian route. This has the advantage over a trans-Atlantic route that it can be developed in stages, and that on the first stage, that from England to Egypt, the weather conditions are known, and there are stations in the neighbourhood of the track where assistance could be given, if required, when new types of airships are being experimented with and crews trained. Several proposals for this Australian service have been forwarded in response to Air Ministry requests; the chairman, I know, was responsible for the original one, and there were at least four others. The one I am outlining here is merely typical, and is given because it is the one with which I am .best acquainted. The main points of difference between schemes put forward lie in the length of the stages to be run non-stop. It is perfectly feasible to run straight through to Egypt, from there to Delhi, from Delhi to Singapore, and Singapore to Port Darwin.
I emphasize that Darwin will be the first port of call. Therefore we should see to it that passengers will have placed at their service a first class trans-continental railway train, otherwise they will continue their journey to the various State capitals by air, and we shall lose a very remunerative source of railway revenue. Possibly this forecast of development in aerial navigation may be the subject of hilarity in some quarters. I remind its critics that 25 years ago the man who suggested that it would be possible to fly around the world, or to hold a conversation by means of wireless telephony between two continents was looked upon almost with scorn by the wiseacres of the time.
– People ridiculed me when I spoke of the possibilities of aerial navigation some years ago.
– It is true that the honorable senator prophesied with considerable accuracy the progress that would be made in aerial navigation, and he was laughed at; but Senator Findley is now in the happy position of being able to confound the doubters of that time. His prophecies have come true. In view of what, has been accomplished in recent years we should be foolish to continue these obsolete 3-ft. 6-in. gauge low-level lines for passenger traffic. When we reach the committee stage I intend to test the feeling of the Senate by moving to eliminate that provision and to substitute for it an up-to-date standard-gauge railway. Later we may continue the unification southwards to Port Augusta, and then we shall be able to travel from Alice Springs to Adelaide on a first class standard gauge railway line. The Public Works - Committee which inquired into this problem showed that the additional cost would not be very considerable, but that the conversion of 3-ft. 6-in. lines- to 4-ft. 8-in. lines would cost approximately £5,000 a mile. On that basis, the cost of converting this section of line eventually to a standard gauge would be £1,500,000. We should begin now with the construction of a standard gauge trans-continental railway, so that eventually we may have one system for all Commonwealth lines.
– It will not take me maro than a few minutes to explain my attitude towards this measure. I have endeavoured to clear my mind of the complexities and complications of finesse that have been apparent during the discussion. I prefer to look upon the construction of this line as a partial, if belated, observance of an honorable agreement arrived at many years ago between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia. Undoubtedly the agreement was that the line should be built from Oodnadatta northwards to the termination of the Port Darwin to Pine Creek railway, and, believing this to be the true construction of the agreement, I have no hesitation in supporting the bill as it stands. Whatever may be the nature of the bargain, at all events it was a bargain, and as honorable members of Parliament we are bound to carry it out. In. the circumstances I find it easy to make up my mind to support the proposal. A great deal of attention has been directed to the nature of the country to be traversed by the proposed railway. My knowledge of it extends over many years. I knew it when it was in a more prosperous state than it is to-day, and I have come to the conclusion that, to express the true value of the- land, we must - adopt the happy mean - that is to say, the view midway between the opinions expressed by the optimists on the . one hand, and the pessimists on the other.
-. - That is a pretty safe estimate.
– I think it may be regarded as a true statement of the position. When first I knew thiscountry there were on it men who were making very comfortable fortunes out of land which is now being condemned by the adversaries of this railway line, and the value of which is being somewhat unduly inflated, I think, by those who are anxious to have the line constructed. With regard to the gauge, I understand that ‘ when the Pine Creek to Katherine River section was constructed, arrangements were made for future conversion to the standard gauge by the building of wider bridges and culverts. I think it would be advisable to include, if it has not been already decided to do so, the same safeguards in any arrangements for the construction of this line. I listened with a great deal Qf interest to Senator Lynch’s references to the gauges of railways in other countries, and also to his statement of the difficulties which confronted countries that had started with eccentric gauges and finally adopted the standard gauge track. The honorable senator did not instance one country which proposed’ to construct a section of standard-gauge railway between two long stretches of 3-ft. 6-in. line. I also listened with interest to his prognostications with regard to the development of aerial transport and the possibility of an overseas passenger airship service to Australia. On this point I suggest that overseas passengers who make the voyage to Australia by air will, in all probability, continue their journey by air instead of travelling oy rail from Port Darwin to the various capital cities of the Commonwealth. This proposed’ line is not likely to be successful as the result of passenger traffic. In my opinion, it is absolutely necessary to construct it for the development of the country. I know that there was greater prosperity in the Macdonnell Ranges many years ago than there is to-day. The mineral wealth was not then regarded as a factor making for development, . but the pastoral industry was enjoying great prosperity. In the circumstances, and taking into consideration the matters I have mentioned, I have very much pleasure in supporting the second reading of the bill, which will ensure the construction of the railway and honour an undertaking given to the State of South Australia.
– The Minister (Senator Wilson) made a very brief speech in moving the second reading of this bill. It was not amultum in parvo speech, and was by no means’ as informative as I anticipated it would be. I think that the Senate should have been given fuller information.
– Honorable senators were supplied with all the details.
– It is perfectly true that the Minister furnished honorable senators with plans and other helpful information that had been prepared for distribution. It would have been better, however, had he given fuller details in his speech.
– Honorable senators have been given all the information that is necessary to enable them to arrive at a decision.
– We have been told that the estimated cost of this line, unballasted, is £1,700,000, and that., if the country along and adjacent to the route is stocked to the extent that is anticipated by the Railways Department, the traffic on the proposed line, and the increased traffic on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway will be so great that the combined annual loss will be only £18,000 more than is now incurred on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line. The loss on that line last year was £133,000, including working expenses and interest. If that can be regarded as a reliable estimate there should not be much opposition to the proposed line. From a developmental point of view this looks a very fair proposition. There are in Australia railways which have been running for verymany years, are not yet paying. Personally, I do not regard a ‘national undertaking solely from the view-point ofpounds, shillings and pence. If, before agreeing to any proposition, we required a guarantee that it would be a payable one, little or no real progress would be made in Australia. We do not so regard postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services, roads, or bridges. Railways have been constructed with the certain knowledge that they would not pay for some considerable time. Who knows what are the possibilities in respect to the future development of the Territory? Some persons do not entertain a very high opinion of it. Others, including myself, believe that it has never had a reasonable opportunity to develop. In regard to the agreement with South Australia, a common-sense view should be adopted. The general belief when that agreement was entered into was that the line should be constructed along the route proposed by this bill. The South Australian Government commenced the construction of a transcontinental line from both ends, but the heavy responsibility which that huge undertaking placed upon it prevented the continuance of the scheme. When the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory, it extended the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. Tenders are now being called for the further extension to Daly Waters; and, if this bill is passed and the line constructed, the mileage from Port Augusta to Alice Springs will be nearly 800, and that from Darwin to Daly Waters nearly 400. There will then remain a gap of about 600 miles. Is it proposed to continue the construction on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge? The Minister who introduced the bill in another place said that the proposed line would meet the requirements of the next 50 or 100 years. Are we to understand that 3 ft. 6 in. is to be the gauge for that period ?
SenatorH. Hays. - It is not for us to determine that.
– I know that future governments will not be bound by any statement that is made by a present- day Minister. But we shall, to a certain’ extent, tie the hands of those who come after us if we continue building on the . 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. That gauge is obsolete. Although it may, for the moment, meet the requirements of a certain area, the opinion of the majority of thinking people is that the sooner we have a uniform gauge the better it will be for Australia and its people.
– That would mean the re-laying of hundreds of miles of railway.
– For the moment we are interested only in our own railway propositions. The Government not long ago gave an indication of its desire to bring about uniformity in the railway gauges, by undertaking the construction of the line from Kyogle to South Brisbane. This matter has been raised in the Senate time and again, and efforts have been made to induce the Government to adhere to the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge. A conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers was held in Melbourne in 1923. At that gathering the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said -
The Commonwealth Government has considered the matter of a uniform gauge at very great length, and as a Government we emphatically believe in the uniformity of railway gauges throughout Australia.
During the discussion on various proposals for connecting the States the right honorable gentleman said -
We cannot go at length into the merits of the proposal. As a matter of policy the Commonwealth Government at this moment says that whatever is done in the matter of railway construction will be done on the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge, the gauge accepted by the commission and the whole of the States.
Why has the Government gone back on what, apparently, was its policy when the Prime Minister attended that conference ?
– The construction of this line on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge will be used as an argument against the unification of the railway gauges.
– I believe that Senator Lynch has expressed the intention of moving an amendment providing for a 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge, instead of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge proposed by the bill. I shall support that amendment. The cost of the line, if built on the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge, would probably be double the estimated cost of building it on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. But by doubling the cost of building the line on the narrow gauge we should avoid quadrupling the expenditure that will be involved, when the standard gauge is eventually adopted. In the meantime there will be heavy losses, and the irritation, friction and delay inseparable from varying gauges throughout Australia. Although the Kalgoorlie railway and other lines in Western Australia are laid on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, it was not suggested that the east-west line should be of the same gauge. Big development may takeplace in the Northern Territory, and in that case considerable traffic may spring up between Darwin and Adelaide. If a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line is constructed, haulage will be expensive, travelling slow, and the means of transit out of date. If what residents of the Northern Territory have been saying for many years be correct, mineral discoveries there may attract population from all parts of the Commonwealth. There is no magnet like gold, and. the official reports published from time to time have shown splendid returns from gold crushings in different parts of the Territory. The Government has probably considered the serious difference in cost between a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line and a 4-ft. 81/2-in. railway. If the Government were seriously embarrassed financially I could understand its hesitancy in adopting the broader gauge, but no Government for many years has had such an overflowing treasury as the present Ministry. It has granted assistance in various directions, even, outside its proper sphere, and, therefore, it should not hesitate to adopt the gauge that the Prime Minister has declared to be in the best interests of Australia. It is not too late, even at this stage, to provide for a 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge on the extension to Daly Waters, since tenders have not yet been accepted. The Government is anxious no doubt to have the measure carried through all its stages, andI have seen it stated that the South Australian Government is also anxious to have the bill finalized.
-Let us have a vote on it.
– That will be taken in due time. I am not going to place any obstacle in the way of progress being made in the Northern Territory : I have never opposed any bill having for its object the development of that portion of Australia. I placed no obstacle in the way of the bill providing for the appointment of commissioners to administer Northern Australia, but I do not know that a little delay so far as this railway is concerned would do any harm. Perhaps the work could be held up until those commissioners have been appointed and have had an opportunity of exhaustively inquiring into the question of the advisability or otherwise of building the northsouth line on the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge. This is, no doubt, the last opportunity that the Senate will have to secure for the Territory the gauge that, in the opinion of the Government, is best suited to the requirements of Australia. If we agree to the adoption of the narrow gauge between Port Augusta and Alice Springs the remaining 600 miles of the north-south line, which will have to be built sooner or later, will need to be constructed on the same gauge. Imagine the time that would be occupied in . travelling from Port Augusta to Port Darwin on a narrowgauge railway ! Progress would be on the go-slow principle.
– The Afghan express !
– One would need to search the dictionary very carefully to find words to describe it adequately. As honorable senators are anxious to have the debate closed, I shall not ask for leave to continue my remarks to-morrow - I know that such a request would not be granted - but I shall conclude by saying that I am anxious for the development of the Territory, and shall support an amendment that I understand will be moved by Senator Lynch, in favour of building the line on the standard gauge.
[10.12]. - I do not intend to reply in detail to the arguments advanced by honorable senators, because the whole subject has been thoroughly discussed. I may remind Senator Findley that I gave an exhaustive statement in my opening remarks, and honorable senators could have obtained from it all necessary details in regard to the line. Although a number of extravagant statements nave been made about the nature of the country to be opened up by the railway, the Government appreciates the great interest that has been displayed in the measure by the Senate as a whole. Since the details of the bill can be discussed at the committee stage, I shall content myself by asking honorable senators to agree to the second reading.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
The gauge of the railway shall be three feet six inches.
.- I move-
That the words “three feet six” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ four feet eight and a half “.
I gave my reasons for this amendment when I spoke on the second reading. I do not propose to enlarge on them at present.
[10.17]. - I am sorry that the Government cannot accept the amendment. The matter was most exhaustively inquired into before the bill was introduced. The Public Works Committee recommended the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. This line will be an extension of an existing line of 478 miles that is built on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, and which we are obliged to use. Honorable senators must have been satisfied by the discussion on the second reading that a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line would supply the needs of the country for the next 50 years at all events.
– I hope not. If that is the case many of the predictions that we have heard will not be fulfilled.
– A 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line can carry a tremendous amount of traffic. The railways of South Africa, Western Australia, Queensland, and parts of South Australia are all on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. If the Northern Territory develops as much as Queensland, which is served by 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railways, we shall have reason to be very glad. I hope the honorable senator will not press his amendment. If it should be carried, the Government would be forced to adopt the Kingoonya route.
– I support the amendment. I indicated in my second-reading speech my objection to perpetuating the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railways, and the breakof -gauge troubles. When the Government was considering the proposal to build the Kyogle to South Brisbane line, it accepted the recommendations of the
Break-of -gauge Commission. Why did it not do so in this case.? This Parliament is not responsible for the narrowgauge railways in South Africa or in the Australian States.
– Would any State Government, in the light of recent developments, think of building 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railways?
– Queensland would. Do not make any mistake about that.
– I do not think she would for a long main line like this.
– Nor do I. The most important question that Australia has to face is the unification of her railway gauges. It would be a sorry mistake for us to build a section of a main-trunk line on a narrow gauge. We ought to do our utmost to construct our northsouth line of the same gauge as the eastwest line.I strongly protest against any Commonwealth railways being built on the narrow gauge. We shall shortly be considering a proposal to lay a third rail on the line fromRed Hill to Adelaide. That also, in my opinion, will be perpetuating our break-of-gauge trouble. If ever we are compelled to defend Australia against an attack by a foreign power, we shall find it impossible to transport troops expeditiously from one point to another. The breaks in our railway gauges would render rapid mobilization at a given spot very difficult. I intend to vote for Senator Lynch’s amendment. Even if the construction of this line is delayed for a few months no great harm will be done.
– If this amendment is adopted 450 miles of existing railway will have to be scrapped.
– I prefer to incur the minor expense now rather than the major expense later on.
. -Although some honorable senators are anxious to catch the last trams and trains, I do not intend hurriedly to dispose of this matter. Honorable senators will travel a great deal faster on the trams and trains here than they would be able to do on a 3-ft. 6in. gauge railway.
– Or on the cable cars.
– The honorable senator’s’ interjection: reminds me of a story - of course, it is only a story - that I heard long ago. It is said that a boy at one time boarded a cable car at St. Kilda and paid the usual half fare. When he arrived at Prince’s Bridge a full fare was demanded of him because he had become a grown man. I should like to know what would happen to a boy who boarded a 3-ft. 6-in. railway train at Port Darwin by the time he reached Port Augusta.
– He would be a grandfather.
– Probably so. I suggest to the Government’ that it should report progress and allow us to debate this matter fully tomorrow. I have heard quite a number of honorable senators, who are not present to-night, say that they are opposed altogether to the construction of this railway. Others have told me that even if they voted for the second reading of the bill they would attempt in committee to amend this clause to provide that the line should be constructed on the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge.
– Why are they not here to say so?
– I am not responsible for their absence. No matter is of more importance to the public of Australia to-day than the unification of our railway gauges. It has been discussed at practically every Premiers’ conference for years. The best engineers have been consulted, and after going into the question most exhaustively, have concluded that a 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge is the best to adopt as the standard for Australia. The Government has pledged itself to that standard, and I do not wish it to go back on its declared, policy. What explanation has the Government to offer? The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce); said it would be true to its pledges and carry out its policy in its entirety. Is not. a uniform gauge throughout Australia a part of the Government’s policy? When the Senate was considering this question a while ago, I directed attention to what the Prime Minister had stated at a conference in 1923. Therewasno ambiguity in the language employed by the Prime Minister, and I hope that he and the representatives of the Government in this Chamber will come f orward with a bold progressive policy, and one quite. different from that which has been adopted up to the present in connexion with the development of the Territory. Two years ago, when considering a proposal to construct a railway from the Katherine River to Daly Waters, we were told that provision had been made for a bridge to carry a broader gauge. What type of gauge? Was it the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge? The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) said the proposed line would meet the requirements of the Northern Territory for the next 50 or 100 years. That means that there is little hope of getting a wider gauge for a long time, and that the additional 600 miles to be constructed at a later date will doubtless be on the narrow gauge. I ask honorable senators, in all seriousness, if they think the Northern Territory will be populated and developed within a few years. Bo they believe the statements made by those who have supported the bill that the agricultural, pastoral and mineral possibilities of the Territory are exceedingly bright? If the country is as some have described it there will be a large population there in a very little while. Portions of Victoria which ‘25 years ago were considered unsuitable for settlement are now fully developed and providing employment for a large number of people. It will be regrettable if a division on this important clause is taken at this late hour. I trust that honorable senators who honestly believe in a standard gauge will support Senator Lynch ‘s amendment. If they do so, no unnecessary delay will result, as estimates of the cost of a line on the broader gauge have already been prepared by the departmental officers.
.- Thereare one or two points inconnexion with the debate on this clause which should not be overlooked. The Committee has already agreed to clause 5, which provides that the cost of constructing the line shall not exceed £1,700,000, so that if the amendment providing for the adoption of the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge instead of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, as proposed, be carried, it will be necessary to recommit the bill. I personally favour the 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge, but we have to remember that if the 3-ft. 6-in . gauge is adopted in this case a good Seal of the rolling-stock at present in -use on the narrow ‘gauge system will be available for the proposed extension from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that itwill be a long time before this railway will beproductive. We shall be able to test the possibilities of the railway on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge with rolling-stock already available, and by the time that has been done I think that some of the most ardent- supporters of the proposed line will be keener on roads than on railways for the Territory, since it will probably be found that it can be developed more efficiently by the construction of roads.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Lynch’s amendment) - put.
The committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 11 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
In committee (Consideration resumed from3rd February, vide page 559) :
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; reportadopted.
Senate adjourned at10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 February 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260204_senate_10_112/>.