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Wednesday, 18 July 1906


Mr JOHNSON (Lang) .- It is a pity that the House has not had the benefit of the opinions of the representatives of South Australia upon this question. I understood that one or two of them did intend tospeak, with a view of throwing some light upon the probable attitude of the South Australian Government towards the proposal embodied in the Bill. It would be merely a waste of time to proceed with the measure, and subsequently to learn that the South Australian Government were hostile to the construction of the line through its territory. We ought to be sure that there will be no obstacles placed in the way of a survey of the route being undertaken. We must 'recollect that, of the 1,100 miles to be surveyed, 650 miles are in South Australia. I do not intend to discuss the merits or demerits of the proposed railway, on account of the lateness of the hour.But it would only be fair to ask South Australia and Western Australia, which would chiefly benefit by the construction of the line, to bear a very large proportion of the cost of the proposed survey. It seems to me that those States should also guarantee the Commonwealth against any loss which might occur in connexion with the working of the line. I understand that the Western Australian Government has undertaken to bear a certain proportion of that loss for a period of ten years.; but no such offer has been made by South Australia, and, before proceeding further with the Bill, it would be advisable for the Government to endeavour to secure a similar guarantee from that State. The construction of the proposed line will involve an outlay of at least £4,500,000, apart from the cost of the survey. It therefore behoves us to seriously consider whether we are at the present time justified in committing ourselves to such a huge expenditure. I do not wish to detain honorable members at this late hour ; but when the Bill reaches Committee I shall avail myself of the opportunity to submit an amendment upon the lines I have indicated.







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