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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Mr SEABROOK (Franklin) . - I rise to support the honorable member for Darwin in asking for a. lighthouse on the east coast of King Island. I know something of this island because I built the first jetty in Currie Harbour, on the west coast. There are two lighthouses on this island, one on the northwest at Cape "Wickham, and the other at Currie Harbour; but there is no light on the east coast, where a new jetty has been built, and steamers have a great difficulty in getting to this jetty without a lighthouse. Five trips out of six a steamer has to go to the east coast jetty, especially in westerly weather, the prevailing winds being westerly. The island is a small one; but cattle are regularly transported from it to the mainland, and to the mainland of Tasmania. I also urge that a survey should be made of the west coast of Tasmania. That is one of the roughest coasts in Tasmania, and is very dangerous on account of reefs and rocks. The Government, in the interests of shipping, should have the necessary survey made.

It seems remarkable to me that the Director of Navigation should receive £900 a year, while the secretary, apparently his junior, receives £950. That cannot give satisfaction.

Mr PRATTEN (MARTIN, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Lighthouse and Navigation Departments have now been amalgamated, and are called the marine branch of the department. The secretary is the senior officer, and is in a position similar to that of the secretary of a department.

Mr SEABROOK - I accept the Minister's statement, but I ask him what he would say if his secretary were receiving more salary than himself. I consider that tlie whole position is wrong. I have received letters urging that wireless stations be erected on Maatsukyer and Tasman Islands, and claiming that such an installation is absolutely necessary, owing to the isolated position of these islands. The distances between them and Hobart are only 60 and 50 miles respectively, and a powerful machine would not be required. The unfortunate individuals in charge of the lighthouses are now totally marooned. They have to rely on carrier pigeons to carry urgent messages to the mainland, and frequently those pigeons are taken by hawks. Not long ago one man was killed and another injured at Island. Had it not been for a passing steamer picking up tlie hitter's Morse message and transmitting it to a cruiser at Hobart, he would have had to remain on the island, injured, for possibly a couple of weeks. After he had been taken to the mainland he was a month in hospital. I trust that the Minister will view the request seriously, and make the necessary provision for wireless installations on both islands as quickly as possible.

Mr. BLAKELEY(Darling) [12.45 p.m.'|. - I wish to refer to railway communication between Sydney and Port Augusta. Por many years this subject has been .discussed from a strategic and economic stand-point, and from time to time reports have been furnished, including the 1921 report of the royal commission on the uniform railway gauge and Mr. Combes' report of 1915-16 respecting the construction of a railway from Brisbane to Port Augusta. In addition, military experts who have visited Australia have reported on railway routes necessary for the proper defence of Australia. I urge upon the Government the necessity for the construction of a line from Broken Hill to Port Augusta, thus shortening the route from Sydney to Port Augusta by some 346 miles. The railway from Sydney to Broken Hill passes through Orange, Parkes, Condobolin, across the plains to Menindie, where an up-to-date steel bridge has been built across the Darling River, and thence to Broken Hill. The gauge of that line is the standard adopted by the Commonwealth. Until recently the journey from Sydney via Melbourne and Adelaide to Broken Hill took three days, but now it takes only from 25 to 26 hours. The map attached to Mr. Combes' report shows a proposed route from Broken Hill via 'Erudina and Hawker to Port. Augusta. An alternative route is from Broken Hill, leaving the existing line at Yunta, thence to Carrieton and Port Augusta. The former is the more direct line, but it presents more engineering difficulties. Either route would give a remarkably good connexion between Sydney and Perth, and be of immense strategic value to Australia. Various authorities have reported on the construction of a railway to link Brisbane with Perth. One proposed route is from Brisbane to Moree, leaving Coonamble to the south-east, crossing the Cobar railway at Nyngan, passing in the vicinity of Mount Hope, connecting with the railway to Broken Hill, and. thence following from there either of the routes that I have indicated. Such a line situated many hundreds of miles inland would be invaluable for defence purposes. At present we have many breaks of gauge, in consequence of which great- inconvenience is experienced; particularly by that at Albury. Breaks of gauge are- being obviated in South Australia by the construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill and the provision of a third rail from. Red Hill to Adelaide. In advocating a more direct line from Sydney to Perth I am not for one moment attempting to criticize the construction of the railway from Port Augusta via Red Hill to Adelaide, a portion of which will be of the uniform gauge. I admit that such lines are necessary for the proper linking up of the various capitals and for the quick and convenient transport of goods and passengers. The cost of railway construction is increasing by leaps and bounds, and is likely to continue to do so for some considerable time. I estimate that there are in Australia at present no fewer than 4:0,000 men unemployed, and that is a conservative estimate. Tlie census taken from time to time by the labour bureau and union secretaries shows that some 26,000 men and women are unemployed, and one can safely assume that an additional 14,000 persons who do not come into contact with labour bureaux' or trade union secretaries are unemployed. The Commonwealth Government should immediately begin the construction of reproductive works that will ultimately be of value from the point of view of both defence and of economy.

Unemployment is rife throughout Australia. Three mines at Broken Hill have closed down, and 1,600 men have been out of work. Newcastle has an unemployment register of 4,000, and Victoria has over 10,000 unemployed. New South Wales, some three months ago, had an unemployment register of 6,500, and it is now estimated that 9,000 men are unemployed. Queensland has its unemployment problem, ' and in South Australia recently the State Government retrenched the railway department to the extent of 2,000 men.

Mr Duncan HUGHES - It is understood that those men are only temporarily retrenched.

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