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Wednesday, 16 December 1914

Senator DE LARGIE - Arising out of that answer, I desire to ask whether the Government have a policy in connexion with railway construction, and whether that policy is that all such undertakings shall be carried out by day labour. If so, are they adhering to that policy ?

Senator RUSSELL - I could not answer the question put to me by Senator Needham off-hand, because he desired to know if a contract was in existence, and I was not quite sure that we had not been left with a heritage from our predecessors. The Government have a policy in connexion with the construction of railways, and it is that all such works shall be undertaken by day labour.

Senator NEEDHAM asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -

1.   How many mechanics are employed in the Kalgoorlie depot in connexion with the construction of the Trans- Australian Railway?

2.   In what branch are they employed?

3.   Have they served their apprenticeship to the trade in which they are now engaged?

4.   Prior to being engaged did they present certificates showing that they had had experience in similar work?

5.   How many pairs of wheels belong to the 40-ton bogie waggons from the Clyde Engineering Works in New South Wales?

6.   Have their journals been cut or destroyed through becoming heated when running on the line in course of construction?

7.   Since the commencement of the construction of the line have there been any of the journals or brasses thrown on the scrap heap?

8.   Has there been any unnecessary waste of water during the construction of the line - (a) owing to the leakage in the tanks; and (b) because the tanks would not empty themselves within a foot of the bottom through being below the level of the cock in the loco, tender?

9.   Have excessive hours been worked by men as a result of being stuck up on the road in consequence of the shortage of water, although there was plenty in the tanks?

10.   When the water is being changed in the boilers of the engines has any attempt been made to conserve the waste water, which might be used for wash-out purposes?

11.   What is the weekly consumption of water from the reservoir at Kalgoorlie used in connexion with the construction work?

Senator RUSSELL - The answers are -

1.   At 1st December, 1914. the mechanical staff at Kalgoorlie was - 1 acting fitter in charge. 1 car and waggon foreman, 1 turner, 14 fitters, 3 boilermakers, 2 blacksmiths, 1 machinist, 0 car builders, 4 carpenters and joiners, 2 waggon builders, 3 painters; or a total of 38.

2.   Chief Mechanical Engineer's Branch. (Designations shown above.)

3.   It is the usual practice to ask men for their credentials before engaging them, and in the event of such being unsatisfactory, they ave not engaged. Of recent date the fact of their being members of recognised unions, together with apprenticeship credentials, has been accepted as reliable information.

4.   Their credentials are always viewed prior to engagement; but, in urgent cases, it is not essential that skilled mechanics should have experience in similar work, although, where possible, preference is always given to men possessing such experience.

5.   One hundred and sixty pairs.

6.   So far as can beasertained, very little trouble has been experienced with hotboxes in the Clyde waggons. Where hot boxes occur the journals become slightly scored, but none have been destroyed.

7.   Yes; it is usual when brasses become defective, either duc to hot boxes or defects, to re-melt the brasses; but the number so treated is not more than is usually experienced in railway working. About twelve months ago one journal became so badly seized that it was destroyed. Axles so destroyed are forged into articles for repair purposes. 8. (a.) No unnecessary waste has occurred; but the temporary tanks provided for the purpose of pushing on the construction could not be obtained sufficiently strong to resist the shocks usually found in running. Consequently, leaks developed: but as soon as possible other tanks were substituted for those in a leaking condition. (b) No waste of water occurred through the tanks not being able to empty themselves into the tender. Some trouble in this respect has been experienced with the engines obtained from the Baldwin Company, of America, owing to the cocks communicating with the tanks at a higher level than that shown on the drawing, but this has now been overcome.

9.   No; the amount of water left in the tank usually would be inefficient to carry the engine any distance.

10.   This matter has been receiving attention, and arrangements are being made to provide an electrically-driven pump to re-use the water for wash-out. As soon as this is provided, the wash-out water will bo drained into a pit, and pumped back under pressure for the purposes of wash-out.

11.   The average weekly consumption for the three months ended 30th September, 1914, was 233,000 gallons.

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