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Thursday, 3 November 1910

The CHAIRMAN - I remind the honorable senator that he is entering now into the question of the taking over of the railways and their management.

Senator CHATAWAY - I am referring to the taking over of the officials and the railway ; not the railways.

The CHAIRMAN - I ask the honorable senator to keep as closely as possible to the question which is immediately under consideration.

Senator CHATAWAY - I merely wish to point out that under paragraph / of the agreement, the Commonwealth will not be entitled to increase the rates, at present in force in respect of the transport of goods and passengers on the Port Augusta railway. Whatever price it may pay South Australia, it must never increase the freights upon that bit of railway. That is a leg-rope to which the Commonwealth ought not to submit. To make the railway in question pay, it may be necessary for us to dispense with the services of anumber of highly paid officials, and to replace them by lower paid officials. I support the amendment.

Senator ST.LEDGER (Queensland) [3-32l- - The Vice-President of the Executive Council must recognise that the Commonwealth will, in reality, not take over the Northern Territory, or any of the officers who are at present charged with its administration until the date fixed by proclamation for the commencement of this Act. Before I allow the Bill to pass from this Chamber I wish to know something about that proclamation, without which this clause cannot be operative.

Senator Vardon - We shall have to proclaim the honorable senator's want of sense in this matter.

Senator ST LEDGER - It is refreshing to witness Senator Vardon rushing to the rescue of the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I refuse to subscribe to all the humbug with which this clause is surrounded. An amendment has been wisely made in it by the House of Representatives to which I assent conditionally.

Senator Vardon - The South Australian Government have to proclaim the Act passed by that State, and the honorable senator does not know that they will do it.

Senator ST LEDGER - Nobody knows better than does Senator Vardon that though South Australia may issue any number of proclamations, they will not affect us " a brace of shakes." I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say when the proclamation bringing this Bill into operation is likely to be issued. The honorable gentleman remains silent. Consequently we must deal with him as criminals are sometimes dealt with when they refuse to answer questions. We must draw our own conclusions as to what his silence means.

Motion agreed to.

Resolutions reported; report adopted.

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