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Friday, 29 June 1906

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister of Home Affairs) . - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This measure is one which has been before the House upon several occasions. It has also been before the Senate. Its object is well known to honorable members. It is being re-introduced in the form in which it appeared upon a former occasion. Its object is not to authorize the construction of the Transcontinental .Railway, but simply to provide for an appropriation of £20,000 to enable proper surveys to be made, which will put the House in possession, of information that is absolutely essential to enable it to express a sound judgment upon that very import/ant undertaking. The Bill provides that the Minister may cause a survey to be made of a route to connect by rail Kalgoorlie in Western Australia with Port Augusta in South Australia. It then goes on to authorize the expenditure of the necessary sum of money. In 1904 the Bill passed this House by a considerable majority. It has received the sanction of every party in this Chamber, so far as it is possible for a party to be represented by executive authority. Originally introduced by the first Deakin Government, it was. afterwards taken up by the Watson Ministry, -and when the Reid-McLean Government were in office they advanced it through its remaining stages, and it was transmitted to the Senate. The measure was discussed in that Chamber in 1904, and again last year. Upon the last occasion the Senate resolved to the effect that the Bill should not be proceeded with "until South Australia had given parliamentary sanction to the construction of the line through its territory. Since then we have communicated with the South Australian Government upon the matter, and have received the following reply from Mr. Price, the Premier of that State : - Sir,

In reply to your letter of the 7th instant, respecting the. proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, I have the honor to refer von to my telegram of 1st March last, and to say that this Government has no objection to the survey as therein notified, but cannot undertake to consider a Bill for .submission tj Parliament in the absence of information as to the route and terminal points of the railway.

That is to say that, so far as South Australia is concerned, she is not hostile to this Bill. In fact, I believe that the people of that State favour the construction of the Transcontinental Railway. The only point with them is that they do not care to commit themselves to any scheme until they know the route that is to be followed, and possibly the cost of the construction of trie proposed line. That is the very information which, under this Bill, we are asking the House to give us authority to ob tain. We hold that the building of the Transcontinental Railway is a great national work, which is worthy of the attention of this House, and which ought to be regarded from a Federal stand-point. It is an undertaking which ought not to be rejected until honorable members have been afforded an opportunity of arriving at a sound judgment upon it. It has often been asserted that the line is intended merely to benefit Western Australia. That is not the way in which we ought to regard a great national undertaking. We should approach it from a Federal stand-point. We should also regard it from an historical stand-point, with a view to ascertain the reasons why this Bill now becomes before the House for consideration. I am free to admit that, when I first considered this project, I was inclined to take up a critical attitude in respect to it. But I felt that inherently it appealed to one's Federal instinct as being the right thing to do. Since the proposal was brought before the House, I have had the advantage of visiting Western Australia, going through- the country to be traversed by the line as far as it was possible to go by rail, and consulting with the people of the State on the project. I, as a representative of Queensland, desired to look at the question from the Western Australian stand-point, in order to be able to give a judgment fairly and honestly according to the facts. I feel absolutely confident that the people of Western Australia are only claiming that which from a Federal standpoint is a fair and reasonable thing to accord to them. In Western Australia I made some inquiries, and I found that when the State was asked to consider the important question of whether she would enter the great Australian union, certain aspects were submitted for her consideration. Separated as she virtually was from the eastern States by a sea journey, and developing her own territory, she almost seemed to be complete within herself as a centre of government. On the face of things, as far as economic conditions were concerned, there did not appear to be any special reason for inducing Western Australia to join the Union from any material advantage she was likely to gain. But of course, from the national and defence points of view, there were many reasons to actuate her in- taking that step. As far as I can see, after looking closely into the question, there was no State which -gave a more patriotic decision than Western Australia did when she decided to throw in her lot with the others, and form a great Australian nation under the Crown. From the stand-point of the people of Western Australia, undoubtedly one of the chief advantages which they would gain from joining the union was that they would get railway connexion with the other States. The temporary advantage of the expenditure of a little money does not appear to have been the motive which actuated them. Unless we have commercial means of communication, unless we have means by which people can move freely from State to State, no real Federation has been accomplished. The idea in establishing the Federation was to obtain freedom of commerce and intercourse amongst the peoples in the union. It is true that the people of Western Australia had communication bv sea with the eastern States, but that is only one of the avenues of trade and commerce, and in times of war it would be most seriously affected. The people of Western Australia say, " Just as you have a telegraphic system! extending all over Australia, and forming, as it were, a nerve system for the whole of the union, so it is necessary to have arteries and veins, so that the life blood of the nation may pass freely through them. We are not one whole people until every part of Australia is linked together by commercial highways." They are only making to us a fair and reasonable appeal from the Federal point of view when they press this claim very strongly upon us. During our visit they asked, " What is our position at the present time? We are absolutely isolated. We are practically just as much an island as is New Zealand. There is no more organic connexion between the eastern States and our State at the present time than there is between Australia and New Zealand. There is a vast area of land connecting us, it is true, and if you will only construct a railway across that country vOl. will give us that link or bond which will enable us to become real members of the great Australian union." When we are forming an Australian nation we cannot overlook these considerations. We cannot simply regard this proposal) as a mere expenditure of public money, and say, " Oh, it means that Queensland will have to contribute £2,000 or £3,000 towards the outlay ; that will .not benefit us, and therefore we ought not to assent to the proposal." Again, from the New South Wales stand-point, a similar argument should not be used.

What we have to consider are the facts placed before, the people of Western Australia when they contemplated joining the Union. When it is sought to establish a federation there are many things which cannot be included in the legal bond or contract. Even this morning, what attitude did we take up in respect to the Governor-'General's residences? The House acted in a Federal spirit in this matter. When it came to deal with the claim of the great State of New South Wales, we did not argue that because it was not mentioned in the Constitution, therefore we should not honour the promise that was made. The attitude which honorable members took up this morning in agreeing to the Bill to provide a residence for the Governor-General in New South Wales, was simply this: We realize that when the proposal to establish the Commonwealth was made, there were certain moral hopes or promises which were held out to the people, and that they are just as much matters of national honour as is anything which could have been put in the written bond. If these hopes and aspirations were held out to any portion of the Commonwealth, it behoves us, as a nation, to do our best to honour them. We have passed from the six States stage, let us hope, into the Australian stage, and do not desire to have the feeling engendered in the mind of any portion of the Commonwealth that it is not receiving justice at the hands of the majority. And the more remote a State is from the Seat of Government, the more jealous we ought to be in guarding its position, and seeing that whatever hopes it has which are based on any substantial ground, shall be honored. Any one who takes up the records can realize that leading Australians who communicated with, and spoke in, Western Australia, as leaders of the Federal movement, would be more or less regarded in the nature of holding out fair promises which might be expected to be honoured by the people when the Federal Parliament was established. The people of Western Australia, relying absolutely and fully upon these promises, entered into an indissoluble agreement. They tied their hands absolutely when they decided to become for all time members of a great Australian Federation. We must;, therefore, treat' them with that justice and that spirit of fairness and equity to which they are entitled under the conditions. To-day, we are not asking the House to' go so far as to sanction the construction of this railway. All we are asked by the State to do to-day is to obtain that amount of information which will enable the House to come to a sound judgment, so that, even if the House in its wisdom should see fit to reject the scheme, the rejection will not result from the operation of an anti-Federal spirit, but simply from the exigencies of the case. That is the position which we ask the House to consider. . If it refuses to pass the Bill, it will be practically closing, its eyes to the facts. It will be absolutely refusing to grant to Western Australia even the courtesy of an investigation of its claim.

Mr Lonsdale - Let them pay for the survey.

Mr GROOM - Was that the way in which the honorable member was met today ? When honorable members were asked to agree that a Governor-General's residence should be established in Sydney, did they say, "Let them pay for it"? When it was decided that the Seat of Government should be in New South Wales, did the people in Victoria say-

Mr Lonsdale - That is in. the bond.

Mr GROOM - Then the honorable member "who poses in the House as an ange) of purity and charity asked us to keep the letter of the bond, but in this matter, he doss not ask us to act in a Federal spirit. From what I know of him I am perfectly assured that there is inherent in him a sense of justice. I believe that when he realizes the fact that the people of Western Australia had beer, encouraged by the promises of those in authority-

Mr Mcwilliams - Bv whom?

Mr GROOM - By leaders who, in a sense, spoke with authority.

Sir John Forrest - The leader of the Opposition was one of them.

Mr GROOM - That is so.

Mr Lonsdale - We have only statements made 'by individuals.

Mr GROOM - There were statements made bv the honorable member for Adeilaide, when Premier of South Australia, by a subsequent Premier of the State, by Sir Josiah Symon, and I think by the present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.

Sir John Forrest - And bv the right honorable member for East Sydney.

Mr GROOM - The late Prime Minister, when he was recently over in Western Australia, and investigated the claim on the spot, was so thoroughly satisfied that he was of the opinion that all we should do was simply to draw a straight line from point to point, and order the railway to be constructed.

Mr Kelly - But the statement was made years after the Federation was accomplished.

Mr Wilson - And now the Treasurer says that the leader of the Opposition did not work for it.

Mr GROOM - My honorable colleague I am sure never made any such statement as that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I understand that the Treasurer has complained.

Mr Lonsdale - He is thoroughly ungrateful.

Mr GROOM - I am perfectly sure that honorable members will judge the case on its merits, and not in the light of statements which may be bandied to and fro.

Mr Wilson - We do.

Mr GROOM - I ask honorable members to pass the Bill in order to enable a proper investigation to be made.

Mr Wilson - Postpone the consideration of the Bill for fifty years, and we may consider the proposal.

Mr GROOM - Western Australia has done everything which it possibly could in order to treat the Commonwealth in a generous spirit in carrying out its work. After Federation was accomplished in 1901, the State, at its own expense, caused special inquiries to be instituted ir. order to give its people the fullest possible information. Special reports were made by Mr. O'Connor, one of the finest engineers whom I think Australia has even seen, and whose works will stand through all time as an eloquent testimony to his great engineering capacity and skill. I refer particularly to the magnificent work which he did in Fremantle Harbor, and to that, perhaps, still greater work, the designing and execution of the Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie water scheme. These two schemes alone mark Mr. O'Connor out as a man whose word is worth considering. According to the report which he made to the Government of Western Australia in 1901, he estimated that the construction of the railway would cost about .£4,400.000. That estimate was subsequently confirmed' by the reports of engineers who were appointed bv the Commonwealth to investigate the matter, when thev estimated the cost at about £4,500,000, and anticipate, after ten years, it will realize a profit of £18,000. It will be seen, therefore, that Western Australia was eager to appoint competent persons who should fearlessly investigate the merits of the project, and make a proper report in order to put us in possession of all the facts. The State also obtained a further report from Mr. Muir, who went over the route of the line as far as it was possible to do.

Mr Wilson - Has the Minister ever read the Treasurer's report of his ride over the route of the line ? Read what he says about the country.

Sir John Forrest - I wish that the honorable member would read it.

Mr Wilson - I have read it. The right honorable member searched the country for water, and thanked God when he got a bucketful.

Mr GROOM - Mr. Muir made a full report. Western Australia, therefore, has treated the Federation fairly. She sent her own officers to thoroughly investigate the country, as far as thev could, and placed the House in possession of extremely valuable information in the shape of their reports. In addition to that, her Parliament passed an Act giving the consent of the. State to the. survey of the line. The preamble to the Act ought to be borne in mind by this Parliament, because it voices honestly and fairly the hopes and aspirations of the people of the State. It reads as follows : -

Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia, being desirous of securing closer union and the benefits of mutual protection and defence, and being desirous also of enjoying the advantages of freedom of trade, commerce, and reciprocal intercourse, have, by thi Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, fo, med one Federal and indissoluble Commonwealth . And whereas, in furtherance of these objects, power has been conferred upon the Parliament of the Commonwealth to make laws for the construction and extension of railways in any State with the consent of such State : And whereas, on the faith of the early construction of a railway to connect the western and eastern portions of the Commonwealth, by means whereof they could enjoy the full benefits of such union, the people of Western Australia did agree to the said Constitution, and to form part of the Commonwealth : And whereas, to enable the Parliament of the Commonwealth to execute and maintain those essential provisions of the Constitution which were intended to confirm the people of this portion of the Commonwealth in that assurance of protection and defence, and the advantages of postal and commercial intercourse, and of freedom of trade by land and bv sea, which are enjoyed by members of the Commonwealth elsewhere, it is desirable to authorize such Parliament to construct a radway as aforesaid : Now, therefore, be it enacted, &c.

Mr GROOM - Incidentally, I might mention that the whole distance from Fremantle to Adelaide is 1,746 miles. Already there has been constructed a railway from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie 387 miles, and another line from Adelaide to Port Augusta 259 miles, leaving a distance of 1,100 miles to complete the transcontinental scheme. The engineers have reported in favour of a gauge of 4 ft. 8^ in., and the State of Western Australia has undertaken, if the Commonwealth builds the connecting line, to extend the gauge on the railway from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie.

Sir John Forrest - Western Australia has undertaken to make the gauge on that line conform to whatever gauge is adopted by the Commonwealth.

Mr GROOM - Yes, Western Australia is prepared1 to incur that extra expense to meet the requirements of. the Australian Parliament. When this question was under consideration by this Parliament on a former occasion, the House desired to have the lands reserved for twenty-five' miles on each side of the line, in order that it might not be alienated.. To meet us in that respect, Western Australia, on the 26th October, 1904, passed resolutions reserving the land in question. In addition to that, Western Australia has shown faith in the line by an undertaking she has given, dated 18th May, 1904, to the effect that, for ten years, if the line is not paying, she will bear a share of the loss. The Western Australian Premier announced that decision in the following telegram : -

On condition that Commonwealth is allowed a free hand as to route and gauge of railway, this State will be prepared for ten years after line constructed to bear a share of any loss in excess of our contribution on a population basis. It would be premature . to fix exact proportion we are- prepared to pay at this stage, but I am confident that it will be liberal, and satisfy the Federal Parliament of our sincerity in this connexion, and our belief that the work will soon be a directly paying one.

Western Australia even went so far as to hold out inducements to South Australia in the way of indemnifying that State against loss. I may further announce that, through the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the- State Premier has been asked whether, in case the survey was authorized, the State Parliament would do anything in the way of fitting out a prospecting party to accompany the surveyors. The following telegram has been received from the Premier of Western Australia on that point: -

In response to wire from Representative Frazer asking if Government could see way clear to announce that Government prospecting party would accompany survey party test either side route proposed transcontinental railway for mineral deposits, have replied stating Government would be willing to assist on lines indicated his wire.

That telegram shows that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who has ever kept in view the interests of his own State, but who, at the same time, has always taken a Federal view of other matters, has secured from the Western Australian Government an assurance that full advantage will be taken of the survey from the prospecting point of view. Western Australia is not acting in this manner from any purely selfish stand-point. She is, I am' satisfied, looking at the matter from a Federal point of view, and desires to afford us every opportunity of ascertaining whether we are justified in doing what it is proposed to do. I have now shown the steps that have been taken in this matter, and I think it is hardly necessary for -me to elaborate the points at issue to any great extent. I may, however, remark that, in my opinion, the Western Australian people are entitled to this railway for several good reasons. The first is on account of the Federal aspect of the question. From an Australian stand-point - leaving the special Western Australian interests out of consideration altogether - I think the survey ought to be made. Secondly, from the point of view of defence, the line ought to be constructed. If honorable members take the trouble to look at the report obtained from the military authorities in 1903, they will find that Major-General Hutton put this aspect of the case very strongly. He states in his minute on the subject -

The contemplated extension of railway communication between Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Port Augusta in South Australia, is, from a strategical and military point of view, of unquestionable value. The isolation of Western Australia, without direct land communication with the other five States of Australia, will, in time of war, cause a general feeling of insecurity. Under the existing circumstances, Western Australia, for purposes of co-operative military assistance from the other States, is as far distant from direct means of reinforcement as New Zealand is from the Eastern States of Australia.

In order, however, to correctly view the present construction of the railway in question as an important factor in the defence of the Cpm- monwealth, it will be well to consider the special importance of Western Australia in the eyas of foreign powers, and the description of attack to which Australia is subject, and to meet which intercommunication between the States by land must be regarded as of paramount value.

Then he goes on -

The potential wealth of the gold-fields and the vast extent of valuable and unoccupied land in the territories of Western Australia render the acquisition of that portion of the Australian continent a most valuable prize to foreign nations. The strategical situation, moreover, of Western Australia, dominating, as it does, the southern side of the Indian Ocean, and the converging trade routes from the West, must be considered as of the greatest importance to British and Australian interests.

In addition to that, the right honorable member for Swan has placed a memorandum on the papers embodying an extract from a report from Major-General Edwards, then commanding the British troops in Hong Kong. This report was furnished to Governor Sir W. C. F. Robinson. Major-General Edwards states -

No general defence of Australia can be undertaken unless its distant parts are connected with the more populous colonies in the south and east of the continent. If an enemy was established in either Western Australia or at Port Darwin, you would be powerless to act against him. Their isolation is, therefore, a menace to the rest of Australia....... The interests of the whole continent, therefore, demand that the railways to connect Port Darwin and Western Australia with the other colonies should be made as soon as possible.

The military authorities whom I have quoted, considering the question absolutely from a national stand-point, give, in my opinion, excellent reasons why we ought, at all events, to survey the route of the proposed railway. At this stage I am not asking that the construction of any line shall be proceeded with. I am simply asking that the matter shall be properly investigated.

Mr Kelly - We have to consider the expense as well.

Mr GROOM - Exactly; we are asking for an investigation to enable us to determine whether the expense is justifiable.

Mr Carpenter - The present estimateis too high.

Sir John Forrest - Hear, hear.

Mr GROOM - The engineers, in their report, tell us that they- have erred on the side of caution, so that there may be no mistake about it. An investigation of the route may prove that the cost of constructing the line will be much less than has been supposed. Even, however, if an honorable member were inclined to oppose the construction of the railway, that would be no reason for resisting an investigation of the route. It is not a question of one State against another State. It is merely a question of whether there shall be a fair investigation of what is asked by Western Australia on the merits of the proposal.

Mr Kelly - The honorable gentleman said this morning that there was a Federal bond which, must be observed.

Mr GROOM - I certainly said that we had to look at the matter from a Federal stand-point, and I say so still. Inducements were held out to Western Australia to enter the Federation, and she was assured that the railway would be constructed. If honorable members would go to Western Australia and investigate this matter impartially, ascertaining the views of the people, as I myself have done, as far as I could in the time that I could spare for the purpose, they would find that the promised construction of this railway was a distinct factor in inducing the electors to accept theFederal Constitution ; just as in New South Wales the people were induced to accept the Federal Constitution on the undertaking that the Federal Capital would be located in that State. The only difference is that in the one case the bond was embodied in a written contract, and in the other there was an understanding.

Mr Kennedy - Who had power to pledge the Commonwealth in that way?

Mr GROOM - No one actually had that power, and in the same way no one. had power to give a pledge to New South Wales that a second residence for the GovernorGeneral would be provided in New South Wales.

Mr Fowler - Responsible men raised the point in Western Australia.

Mr GROOM - Exactly, and it is essential, at the beginning of our national life, that we should give no just cause of complaint to any large body of our people who have entered into the Federal agreement under the belief that they were to be treated by the Federal Parliament in a certain manner.

Mr Kennedy - Victoria passed a Bill with the object of getting something for some of her citizens under the belief that the Commonwealth would pay the expense.

Mr GROOM - And that measure was carried out. Every provision of it has been carried out.

Mr Kennedy - But at the expense of Victoria.

Mr GROOM - Yes, because, as a matter of law, that was all that Victoria asked. She never asked that the money should be paid by the rest of the Commonwealth.

Mr Kelly - Why should not the cost of this survey be borne by the States of Western Australia and South Australia?

Mr GROOM - Because it is a matter of national concern; and therefore I am sure that the honorable member for Wentworth will repeat the vote which he gave on a previous occasion in favour of the second reading of this measure. Another reason that can be advanced is that the line will open up new country. A misapprehension prevails as to the character of the country that would be traversed by the line. Mr. Muir, who has to some extent investigated the route, reports emphatically on this point. I will quote what he says about part of it -

I was led to believe, prior to starting this trip, that the country to be traversed consisted almost entirely of a desert, composed of sandhills and spinifex flats. This impression proved, however, to be perfectly erroneous, unless a waterless tract of country, though well-grassed and timbered, can be called a desert.

Mr Kelly - Is that in agreement with the book written by the right honorable member for Swan?

Mr GROOM - It is an extract from a report by Mr. Muir, who made his investigations on the spot. He goes on -

To the north, near the 31st parallel of latitude, the country is more open In fact, from the South Australian border for 250 miles in a westerly direction, it is one large open plain of limestone formation, fairly well grassed throughout.

Taken as a whole, this stretch of country is one of the finest I have seen in Australia, and, with water - which doubtless could be obtained if properly prospected for - it is admittedly adapted for grazing purposes, and will, without doubt, be taken up some day from end to end.

Mr.Kennedy. - If the country is so magnificent, why is it not settled?

Mr GROOM - -One of the reasons is that there is no proper railway communication, and another is that the country is too far from the seaboard. .

Mr Kelly - Is there not equally good country far from the seaboard in the other States ?

Mr GROOM - No doubt there is ; but perhaps the honorable member will allow me to answer one question at a time. Mr. Muir says with regard to the water supply

Apart from the facilities that would be afforded to railway construction, and the maintenance of the railway service when completed, by artesian water being struck on this waterless tract of country, it would be of incalculable profit to the State in another direction. At present there are millions of acres of splendid pastoral land lying idle in this portion of the State, solely because water has not been conserved. Once let it be known that artesian water has been discovered, and what is now nothing better than a waste would be transformed in a very short space of time, into one of the most important stock-raising centres of our State.

A report was obtained from Mr. Castilla upon the possibilities of the water supply. I will quote the last paragraph from it. It was published in Western Australia on the 19th July, 1904. Mr. Castilla says -

In the course of my duties, I examined over 10,000,000 acres of country, well fitted, given water for pastoral settlement. Our bores have demonstrated that water exists, and I think that there is a very much greater area available.

These are reports from men who are competent to judge, and they show that the country is not such a desert as it is stated to be. They certainly justify us in asking that a proper investigation of the route of the proposed railway should be made, not only for reasons of defence, but also because there is a possibility of the opening up of valuable country. When the country is examined it is quite possible that valuable mineral deposits will be revealed. If the line be constructed, we shall secure better postal communication between the Sta|tes at each end of it ; the cost of maintaining telegraphic communication between the Eastern States and Western Australia will be reduced, seeing that a telegraph line erected along the railway could be looked after with less expense; better means of communication will be provided between the States for the travelling public, and trade and commerce will be promoted and! extended. The returns we have of the progress and development of Western Australia show that when the engineers hold out a prospect of increased trade, as the result of the construction of the proposed line, we may have every confidence that their reports are justified. The State of Western Australia has a wonderful record. It has yielded to d'ate no less than £67,739,016 in gold. There is a large increase taking place in the numbers of stock depastured in the State. In cattle alone the increase has been from 199,793 m 1896 to 561,490 in 1904. As regards land settlement, Western Australia has splendid returns to show. In 1897 there were 31,489 acres under wheat, and in 1905 the area under wheat was 182,080 acres. The total area of land devoted to agriculture in 1897 was 111,738 acres, and it had increased in 1905 to 327,391 acres. In 1896 the value of the deposits in the Government Savings Bank in Western Australia amounted to £460,611, and in '1905 to £2,207,296. The export and import trade of the State grew from £8,143,783 in 1896 to £16,272,528 in 1905. The population of the State in 1896 was 122,696, and in 1906 it had increased to 250,207. These returns show continual progress and advancement. Every addition to the population of the State means greater development of the territory and a better prospect of the proposed railway becoming a paying line. With every addition to the population in Western Australia there is an increased obligation upon us to afford the people there all the facilities for communication with the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth that are possessed bv I he people of the other States.

Mr Kennedy - Why not let the State, if it has such possibilities, make this line?

Mr GROOM - The State of Western Australia is quite prepared to do all it can in the matter.

Mr Fowler - We could only build the railway into the middle of the desert which has been spoken of.

Mr GROOM - If the construction of the line were a State matter, two States would be concerned in it; but it is not merely a matter of State, but of national concern. In putting these facts before honorable members, I am not asking them to commit themselves .at this stage to the construction of the proposed line. The; people of Western Australia claim that certain inducements were held out to them to join the Federation, and that it is now a fair and reasonable thing to ask for the investigation for which this Bill makes provision. The Government are asking the House to view the matter from an Australian stand-point - to realize that each State is entitled to consideration, and that, where necessary works rise out of purely State into national importance, the Federal Parliament should give them the consideration to which they are entitled. In this case that consideration can only be afforded by granting the survey for which provision is made in this Bill. I appeal to the House to approach the question in a generous.and Federal spirit. It is not desirable that in any part of the Commonwealth there should exist a feeling that the people are not being fairly dealt with, whether it be Western Australia or any other State. It is only by the House approaching these great questions in a national spirit that we can create the feeling of mutual goodwill among the States which will make us a people not merely one in bond, but one in Federal sentiment and spirit.

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