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Wednesday, 29 November 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - I do not wish to traverse ground which has been covered by previous speakers. We have had a pretty long and exhaustive debate. Still, I think it must be admitted that this proposal is unique, because it marks a new departure. It has been pointed out that, at its own cost, South Australia built its railway from Adelaide to Serviceton ; that Victoria built its railway from Serviceton to Albury, and so on. The States have built their railways at their own expense, and run them in their own way. This is a proposal altogether distinct, and commits the Commonwealth to the construction and working of a railway on its own account. The reasons advanced for its construction are various. With regard to the matter of defence : I may be a heretic or an atheist, but I do not look upon this line as worth anything from the defence point of view. I do not think that any European nation will ever come into Australia with the idea of conquest. I do not think that Australia, if conquered, would be of any value to a European nation. I believe that that position is generally realized just now.

Senator de Largie - What sort of a country have we got, anyhow?

Senator VARDON - I ask the honorable senator to consider whether it would be worth while for any European nation to endeavour simply to conquer this country. I admit that perhaps a European nation might come here at some time for the purpose of loot - to raid a city like Sydney or Melbourne, and to take away in a very short time all the valuables which they could lay their hands on. But the proposed railway would not be of any use in a case of that sort.

Senator de Largie - If this country is not worth fighting for, it is the only country in the world which has ever been known not to be worth fighting for.

Senator VARDON - I did not say that Australia is not worth fighting for. Now, what actual gain would it be to a European nation to conquer Australia? I think that the feeling is growing pretty well the world over that, looked at from an economical point of view, war is altogether a failure.

Senator Ready - Is not the best guarantee of peace preparedness for war?

Senator VARDON - That is a truism.

Senator O'Keefe - The honorable senator's opinion was not shared last night in the House of Commons.

Senator VARDON - That was a very different position from ours.

Senator de Largie - People in England think their country worth fighting for.

Senator VARDON - I never said that Australia was not worth fighting for; and _ I do not want such words to be put into my mouth.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator put them into his own mouth.

Senator VARDON - I made no such statement. While I do not think that any European Power will come here with the object of taking possession of the country, I do think that there is a danger from the yellow races, against which we must protect ourselves. But, at the same time, the part of the country which they will look towards is the Northern Territory, and the north-west coast, where we have no population, and to which this railway will afford no assistance in reference to the conveyance of troops. The best means of protecting that part of our country is to put people there as fast as we can. Effective occupation will be the best possible defence. Military people may hold a different view ; but my opinion is that any other means of defence will never be of any use to us.

Senator O'Keefe - If we put people there, how could we send troops to defend them in case of attack ?

Senator VARDON - This line will be of no advantage in case of invasion of the Northern Territory or the north-west part of Australia.

Senator Pearce - I suppose the honorable senator has information that Asiatics will not attack Western Australia?

Senator VARDON - I admit that there is a danger there ; but I do not believe that this line will be of any use from a defence point of view. There is, however, what may be called a sentimental reason for linking up the capital of Western Australia with the other capitals of the Commonwealth. I also think it to be perfectly true that if Western Australia had not believed that this line was going to be built, she would not have come into the Federation. Statements were made to influence the vote of Western Australia. I admit that Mr. Kingston urged that this line should be built. But it must not be forgotten that he laid it down as a condition that a railway from the gold-fields to Esperance Bay should also be constructed. I understand that the Western Australian Government have already decided to make that line. In that respect, therefore, the Western Australian promise has been fulfilled. She has, consequently, a claim for the construction of the railway under consideration. But I am satisfied that if the Commonwealth were to say to the two States, Western Australia and South Australia, " If you want railway communication, you must make it yourselves," the line would not be built for the next quarter of a century. South Australia would look upon it from a commercial stand-point. She would say, " Will it pay? If not, we will not lay the burden upon us." One reason why the present route has been adopted is that South Australia thought that if the line went to Tarcoola it might lead to a good deal 6f mineral development in that part of the country. But what 1 complain of is that we are practically taking a leap in the dark, signing a blank cheque, and handing the matter over to the Government without any information such as we ought to have regarding the railway. We have no plans, no books of reference.

Senator Pearce - That is not correct. We have the plans.

Senator VARDON - Are they here?

Senator Pearce - There are over 1,000 yards of plans. The table of the Senate would not hold them.

Senator VARDON - What do the State Governments do with regard to their railways ?

Senator Pearce - They do not lay plans on the table.

Senator VARDON - Are not plans usually reduced, lithographed, and circulated ?

Senator Pearce - The whole of the plans are in the Home Affairs Department, where the honorable senator can see them.

Senator VARDON - I do not suppose that the original plans of a projected railway would be laid upon the table in any House of Parliament, but reduced lithographic plans are produced to give members of Parliament some idea of the way in which a proposed line is going to run.

Senator Pearce - If the honorable senator is satisfied that the plans are in existence, that ought to be enough. He can go and inspect them.

Senator VARDON - We are not engineers. We are simply a body of laymen, and all the information that can be give? us ought to be furnished.

Senator Pearce - What would be the use of the plans to us?

Senator Lynch - They would not be looked at by one senator in ten.

Senator VARDON - That is not saying much for the intelligence of honorable senators.

Senator Lynch - We are not engineers.

Senator VARDON - Any one can study a matter for himself.

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator want us to get a lorry arid cart all the plans up here?

Senator VARDON - That is not the only thing. We have not any of the details which we ought to have. In MrDeane's report, he gives an estimate on the assumption that 70-lb. rails are to be used. Is that to be done?

Senator Pearce - The estimate of cost of construction is based on the use of rails 70 lbs. to the yard. That is the present intention.

Senator VARDON - I think the 70-lb. rail is altogether too light to carry a fast traffic such as we ought to have if this line is to carry mail trains. Such rails are out of date. Rails 70 and 75 lbs. to the yard are used on 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines.

Senator Pearce - Express trains are running over 60-lb. rails.

Senator VARDON - But they are being replaced with heavier rails.

Senator Ready - Sixty-pound rails are being replaced with heavier ones in Tasmania.

Senator VARDON - It is not looked upon as safe to run very fast trains over light rails. I find also, according to one estimate, that the cost of the line is put down at ,£3,988,000. There is a revised estimate of £4,045,000. I do not know which the Government are going to adopt.

Senator Givens - In the absence of a regular survey of the line, any estimate of that kind must be a mere guess.

Senator Pearce - The estimate of £4,000,000 is based upon a proper survey.

Senator Givens - No; it is riot. There has been no proper survey yet.

Senator VARDON - At any rate, this railway is estimated to cost less than ^£4.000 per mile. I want to know how it is that this line is going to be constructed so very much cheaper th an any of the lines that have been built in the Commonwealth previously.

Senator Pearce - There are 4-ft. 8j-in. gauge lines in New South Wales which cost only £2,800 per mile.

Senator VARDON - I have before me a paper by Mr. Hales, who is said to be a man of great experience of railways in Tasmania and New Zealand, and who tells us that the 4-ft. 8^-in. lines in New South Wales cost £13,430 a mile. In Victoria, the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge lines have cost £12, 549 a mile. In South Australia, the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge lines have cost £.11,136 a mile.

Senator Guthrie - The lines in hilly country run up the average.

Senator VARDON - The South Australian lines are not all in mountainous country. The 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines in South Australia have cost £5^92 a mile. None of those lines run through difficult country.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator knows that the narrow-gauge line from Port Pirie to Petersburg runs through very difficult country.

Senator VARDON - I entirely differ from the honorable senator. The railway from Petersburg to Port Pirie follows the line of least resistance. It runs along the feet of the hills, and was built in that way purposely to keep down the cost.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The line has been altered since it was built. The curves have been shortened.

Senator VARDON - The South Australian Parliament said, when that line was under consideration, that unless it could be built for not more than £4,000 a mile, they would not authorize it. The engineers said, " Very well, we will make it for £4,000 a mile by taking the line of least resistance." Ever since then, they have been endevouring to cut off curves and remove corners so as to save a good deal of wear and tear.

Senator Guthrie - The cost of that work has been added to the cost of construction.

Senator McGregor - -£101,000 has been added to the cost of construction.

Senator VARDON - These figures are official. Mr. Hales would not risk his reputation by the publication of inaccurate figures. What object could he have in doing so? He is not a partisan. It does not matter a button to him whether this line is constructed or not. In South Australia the average cost for lines on the 3-ft.' 6-in. gauge has been £5,899 per 'mile. In the

Northern Territory the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway cost £8,111 per mile. In Queensland the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge lines have cost an average of £6,648 per mile. In Western Australia, the cost per mile has been lower than in any of the other States. The 3-ft. 6-in. lines there have cost £5)305 per mile. The 3-ft. 6-in. lines in Tasmania have cost £8,860 per mile. But here we are told that this line can be constructed on the 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge for £4,000 per mile.

Senator Sayers - What were the wages paid in the construction of the existing State lines, as compared with the wages which must be paid now ?

Senator Guthrie - The cost of railway construction twenty years ago was twice as much as it would be now.

Senator VARDON - I take leave to doubt that statement. Mr. Deane admits that rails have gone up in value considerably, even since his first estimate of the cost of this line was made. He admits that material generally is continually going up in price, and no one will contend that if we ask men to go out into this barren country, hundreds of miles from civilization, they will not be justified in demanding a wage which will compensate them for the inconveniences and hardship they will be called on to endure.

Senator Pearce - That has all been taken into consideration in the estimate of the cost.

Senator VARDON - Mr. Deane's estimate is that this line will cost a little under £4,000 per mile. He says -

This estimate throughout is based on the understanding that the best modern methods and mechanical appliances are to be used in carrying out all parts of the work.

Further, at page 13 of his report, he says, in regard to the method of construction -

The question whether the construction of the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway should be carried out by day labour or contract is one that will have to be decided by the Government.

There is no doubt that there are advantages in the contract system, as it relieves the Government and their official staff of much responsibility, and it secures, or should secure, that the cost of the work should be limited to a certain figure.

The advocates of the contract system put it in this way : -

The contractor can get better work out of the men than the Government official, because he is not so likely to be taken advantage of, nor would he be influenced by political pressure - there would, in fact, be no Government stroke. The Government would know from the start what the work would cost, whereas under the day labour method it would be impossible to foresee what the total expenditure would be.

I have had a great deal of experience in carrying out work by day labour, and have built several hundreds of miles of railways under that system for the New South Wales Government. At the start of that work the then Minister for Works undertook to give me a free hand in employing men, gangers, and foremen, and in ordering materials, and I can testify that under such conditions, and with competent men in charge, work can be carried out quite as economically as it is possible through a contractor.

I ask honorable senators to notice the conditions which Mr. Deane lays down - that the Minister shall undertake to give him a free hand in employing men, gangers, and foremen, and in ordering materials. Will the Government do this?

Senator Mcdougall - Certainly; what else could they do?

Senator VARDON - Unfortunately, Senator McDougall is not the Government.

Senator Guthrie - What did the honorable senator do as Commissioner of Public Works in South Australia?

Senator VARDON - I always did the right thing, as Senator Guthrie should know.

SenatorGuthrie. - Did not the honorable senator" give the engineer in charge full power to employ men?

Senator VARDON - Yes; he had full power to employ men.

Senator Guthrie - Why cannot the Commonwealth Government do the same thing ?

Senator VARDON - If so, the Government will not mind my asking whether they intend to give Mr. Deane the same power in connexion with the construction of this railway as he was given by the New South Wales Government?

Senator McDougall - The Commonwealth Government are following the same policy in connexion with their saddlery factory.

Senator VARDON - It is very kind of Senator McDougall to answer for the Minister, but I notice that the Minister is silent on the point.

Senator Pearce - I shall reply to the honorable senator.

Senator VARDON - If the Minister of Defence intends to reserve this information for his reply to the debate, I suppose I must wait for it; but it would have been more convenient to me to have had the information immediately. The Government have not said that they have adopted Mr. Deane's estimate, nor have they said that they intend to follow his method in the carrying out of the work. If the Minister is going to give an answer to my question in his speech in reply, I do not see why he did not give the information in moving the second reading of the Bill. It would have saved a good deal of discussion. Much time has been wasted because of lack of information supplied by the speech of the Minister in moving the second reading of the Bill.

Senator Needham - The honorable senator says that time has been wasted?

Senator VARDON - I do; but I say that Ministers are responsible for it by neglecting to give necessary information.

Senator Needham - Then the honorable senator should not waste any more time.

Senator VARDON - I shall have to answer to the electors of South Australia, who sent me here, and not to Senator Needham. If they think that I am not representing them properly, they will have the remedy in their own hands. I am not going to allow Senator Needham, or any one else, to be the judge of whether I am wasting time or not. I am following what I believe to be the right course, and I do not intend to be dictated to by any honorable senator. If Senator Needham does not desire that I should waste any more time, he had better cease his useless and silly interjections. I wish now to refer to the matter of the route. It demands very careful inquiry. What sort of country is this railway to traverse ? Is it country in which a sufficient water supply for the general working of the railway may be easily obtained? Senator O' Keefe quoted from a letter by Mr. George Murray. I have no personal knowledge of that gentleman; but, so far as Mr. Harry is concerned, I think that he is, in this matter, representing some people on the western coast of South Australia who are deeply interested in this line. He is, I think, entitled to put their view of this proposal before the Senate. I do not know that any one can complain of his having done so. This is a big question, and if people hold strong opinions on it, I do not think that we should complain if they are submitted to the Senate for due consideration. I know Mr. Murray only by repute as one of the best-known and most highly-respected men on the west coast. He says in his letter -

Fifty miles from Tarcoola the desert commences and extends right up to and beyond the border. There is no feed and a rainfall of about 4 inches only. Therefore, no one will take up the country for stock, and there are no mineral indications of any value.

Senator Lynch - That statement is flatly contradicted by the official report.

Senator VARDON - I am not vouching for it. But it can be taken for what it is worth.

Senator Henderson - What is Murray?

Senator VARDON - He is a grazier and squatter, who has been in that country for a great many years.

Senator Lynch - Does he own any land in the neighbourhood of the Gawler Ranges route ?

Senator VARDON - I do not know. Even if he does, a man may give disinterested advice sometimes. He says further in this letter -

The water difficulty by the proposed route will be enormous. Out of six bores put down by the Government on Nullabor Plains not one has yielded water suitable for human consumption, or for locomotive purposes, and only two produce a supply which is passable for stock. On the other hand, a line which bore more southerly from Port Augusta through the Gawler Ranges would traverse a lot of good farming and pastoral country around Chandada.

He says, also -

Before the Commonwealth is finally committed to such a vast undertaking I would urge that a survey of the coastal and shorter route from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie should be made, and should be accompanied by a detailed report of the value and prospects of that country as compared with those of the official line.

There is nothing very extravagant about that letter. It bears on its face evidences of genuineness. Mr. Murray may not be altogether disinterested ; but I am not here to champion him. I am here to endeavour to get information about this proposal.

Senator Givens - What is the honorable senator's opinion about the Tarcoola field - Is it worked out?

Senator VARDON - I am coming to that directly. There is another statement published by a Mr. J. L. Higgins. He is a retired farmer now residing at Torrensville, one of the suburbs of Adelaide, and he has something to say regarding the rival routes for the proposed railway. This is part of what he says on the subject - " On the surveyed route there is very little animal life, and the blacks have never occupied the country, except a few wretches nt Winbring. By following the surveyed route vid Tarcoola the line would pass through inferior country the whole distance, where there would be little chance of obtaining suitable water for steam purposes, and coal would have to be hauled either from Port Augusta or Western Australian ports. Great expenditure would be incurred in dealing with the sandhills between Tarcoola and the Nullabor Plains. If the route I suggest were taken good pastoral and agricultural land would be passed through the whole way, and as the rainfall is more re liable water for engine use could be conserved! anywhere along the line. With the exceptionof a few small creeks, no engineering difficulties would confront the railway builders. " I suggest that the line should run from PortAugusta near to Yardea and continue in a. westerly direction, striking the route of the proposed State line from Minnipa Hill to Decres Bay, about midway between Wirrula Rockhole and Nunjicompita - about the eastern boundary of the hundred of Petina. My idea is that the Federal line should run through the hundred of Goode and near the Denial Bay mission station, continuing along the suggested route of the State line, past Wirilia tank, and north of Golona station. Then the line would enter the Nullabor Plains and traverse 200 miles of level country. The Hampton Plains in Western Australia would also be passed over. The other route does not touch those plains."

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - Is that route nearer the coast ?

Senator VARDON - Yes.

Senator Guthrie - In the first part of his letter he says that no suitable water is obtainable on the Nullarbor Plains.

Senator VARDON - The letter from which I have just been quoting is that from Mr. Higgins, who says - " If the route I propose is adopted it will only be necessary for South Australia to continue the line fromMinnipa Hill to junction with the overland line at the hundred of Petina. The Federal line, however, would save to the Stale the construction of from 150 to 200 miles of line. There would be paying traffic for the Federal line from this district, and the route I propose to the West is67½ miles shorter than the one that has been surveyed. If the southern line would be the shortest, cheapest to maintain, and the less expensive to construct, and would return more revenue, it should be adopted. If the Federal Government constructed the line right through, the State could run light lines out where production warranted the outlay. I believe the State Government will eventually conserve water in the Gawler Ranges somewhere in the vicinity of Kondoolka to supply Decres Bay and the surrounding country, in which case there would be no difficulty in supplying water for railway purposes. Although this has been a dry season in the Gawler Ranges, I think, if inquiry were made it would be found that there was a good supply of water in many of the dams."

These statements point to the need which" exists for further inquiry being made in regard to the route of the proposed line. I do not know Mr. Higgins any more than I know Mr. Murray, but when men of repute make such assertions, and say that they are prepared to back them up, honorable senators should pause before finally committing themselves to the route which' is proposed in this Bill. Many persons believe that we shall be justified in constructing the line an additional 67½ miles to Tarcoola, because of the mineral development which is likely to take place there.

Others seem to think that Tarcoola has seen its best days.

Senator Givens - But the proposed line is to be built for defence purposes.

Senator VARDON - I am under the impression that the South Australian Government stipulated that the line should go to Tarcoola, because it might lead to considerable mineral development in that country. Personally, I do not know which is the better route. It has been said that the railway will traverse a vast area of desert country, which is practically waterless.

Senator Pearce - Who said that?

Senator VARDON - I have read the opinions of a number of men to that effect.

Senator Pearce - The surveyors who went over the country do not say it.

Senator VARDON - I am glad that the Minister has procured a map from South Australia showing the spots at which water is obtainable along the route. But only one well is shown on that map from which water can positively be obtained.

Senator Pearce - I can assure the honorable senator that he is wrong.

Senator VARDON - Mr. John Muir, in a report to the Engineer-in-Chief of Western Australia, says -

As regards the route adopted, I am of the opinion that the line should be diverted somewhat as shown in blue pencil (that is, to the south of its present location)..... , The principal reasons for advocating the deviation are: - (a) that the rainfall would be greater; and (4) that the land is better in quality. As a matter of fact, given railway communication adjacent to or within a reasonable distance of the Cliffs (Hampton Range), many thousands of acres of land suitable for wheat-growing would be made available fdr selection. This suggested deviation should, I think, receive very careful consideration before the route is finally determined upon.

That exactly expresses the position in which I find myself. I would like a careful inquiry to be made before the proposed route is finally adopted. There are residents of the west coast of South Australia who affirm that a line which traversed a route nearer the sea would run through agricultural land-

Senator Guthrie - And every ton of goods which they received would be carried by sea, and not by rail.

Senator VARDON - I have a notion that a railway is sometimes required to convey goods to a port. Before the Bill is carried, I wish to be certain that I am voting for the best route.

Senator McGregor - If the honorable senator is in any doubt, he should follow the Government.

Senator VARDON - If I am in any doubt, I will not follow the Government.

Senator Pearce - Why does the honorable senator prefer to accept the statements of a casual newspaper correspondent rather than those of engineers of repute?

Senator VARDON - Because the engineers of repute differ. For instance, Mr. Muir reported to the Engineer-in-Chief of Western Australia -

This suggested deviation should, I think, receive very careful consideration before the route is finally determined upon.

Senator Pearce - And the EngineerinChief of Western Australia did not think his proposition worth putting forward.

Senator VARDON - If these engineers differ in regard to the route which should be followed, what is a layman to do? Senator 0' Keefe has said that he pins his faith to the experts. So do I, as a rule. But, upon this occasion, they differ.

Senator McGregor - I have been over a lot of this country.

Senator VARDON - But, unfortunately, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has not given us the benefit of his experiences. The justification for the route, via Tarcoola, which will involve the construction of an additional 67 J miles of railway, is that it will probably lead to a large mineral development there. On the other hand, there are those who urge that that additional distance will involve an extra outlay of £500.000 or £600,000. It has also been said that the line will pass through a waterless country, which has no possibilities of agricultural or pastoral traffic, and that beyond Tarcoola, which has, proved a disappointment, there is no trace of minerals. It is further urged that every passenger, and every ton of goods, will have to be taken 67J miles out of the way for all time. That, briefly, is the view which is expressed by those who prefer the coastal route. I do not pretend to say which is the better route. But if the proposed line is to be worth anything, it will have to be a mail line, which will finally run to Port Augusta, thence to Petersburg, Broken Hill, and Cobar, as the direct route to Sydney.

Senator McGregor - That is so.

Senator VARDON - A good deal has been said in regard to the width of gauge which we should adopt. Indeed, it has been the subject of much heated controversy. I do not know whether the Ministry have pledged themselves to a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, but, if so, unless South Australia is prepared to convert her lines to that gauge, a passenger who enters the train at Perth will have to make a good many changes before he arrives in Adelaide. Some American authorities are already viewing the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge with less favour than they did previously. They are declaring that what they want is heavier rails, a wider track, a heavier rolling-stock, and easier gradients, so that they may be able to haul big loads, at much less expense than they do on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. I want to quote from Mr. Hales' paper, with regard to the question of gauge. He says -

Uniformity of gauge is a most important question for Australia. There are three different gauges on its main railway systems, and the daily losses and delays incidental to break of gauge will become of vital importance in time of war. This is a federal question, involving the expenditure of many millions of money in the near future. A secondary question, but also of the utmost importance, is, what gauge will give the best material and financial results for all timer A radical change is proposed in a railway system which has cost over 146 millions.

Continuing, Mr. Hales says -

There is no special advantage in adopting any particular gauge which may be considered standard. Australia already has a large enough railway system to warrant a special gauge of its own, just as India and Ceylon have their special gauge of 5 ft. 6 in. India is already regretting the departure from this gauge on some now important lines, which were built to the metre gauge - 3 ft.33/8 in. Those who are intimately acquainted with the construction and working of railways know that any one gauge is not materially and financially suitable for all countries or districts.

He favours, on the whole, the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, because he says -

The largest practicable locomotive for ' 5-ft. 3-in. gauge would probably be 20 per cent. more powerful than the largest practicable locomotive on 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. Carriages and trucks could be made about 10 per cent, wider, with a similar increase in carrying capacity. It may safely be affirmed that a railway of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge can handle fully 10 per cent, moretraffic than a railway 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge at a less cost per passenger mile and per ton mile, and the cost of construction per mile in an easy country like Australia will be little greater.

He makes one very important statement I think with regard to this matter of change of gauge. He says that if you were to put on one side the whole of the 5-ft. 3-in. rolling-stock it would pretty well have to go on the scrap heap, because it would be. almost valueless. Whereas, if you were to put out of use the 4-ft.8½-in. rollingstock there would be many countries in which it could be sold, of course, somewhat at a discount. It would not be sacrificed to anything like the same extent as would the other rolling-stock. Mr. Hales remarks -

The rolling-stock on 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge - cost £7,816,359 - should be saleable at second-hand price - say, 50 per cent. Most of the rollingstock on 5-ft. 3-in. gauge - cost £8,001,588- would only be saleable at scrap prices - say, 15 per cent.

That is, I think, a matter which is worth consideration. At the present time we have the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge from Terowie, in South Australia, to Albury, in New South Wales, and that is the longest line of one gauge that there is in the Commonwealth, if the proposed railway were built on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge the Inter-State traffic from Perth to Albury would be run on that gauge, and it would not be very much to New South Wales to alter her railway from Albury to Sydney to the 5-i't. 3-in. gauge, and so make the gauge uniform from Perth to that point.

Senator McDougall - What about the line from Sydney to Brisbane?

Senator VARDON - The line in Queensland is builton the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge.

Senator Lynch - You are only taking one bit of Australia into consideration.

Senator VARDON - Exactly ; but what I said is still true, namely, that the line from Perth to Albury would be the longest line of one gauge in Australia. We have a right to know how the money for the construction of this railway is to be obtained. Honestly, I do not believe that it will be built for £4,000,000. I anticipate that the cost will fie nearer £6,000,000.

Senator de Largie - What is a million or two?

Senator VARDON - Of course, to Western Australian senators, a million or two is nothing. All that they want is the railway, and hang the expense.

Senator de Largie - The financier for the Fusion Ministry used to talk in that way.

Senator VARDON - Sir John Forrest is, I dare say, a very good financier. We have a right to know whether the Government intend to get the money for this railway out of revenue or to borrow it. It is all very well for the Minister to sit back and say nothing.

Senator Mcgregor - But the Minister has said it already.

Senator VARDON - The Senate is entitled to this information. I do not think that, in the circumstances, Senator Millen's amendment is unreasonable. It only asks that, before we finally decide on the route and the gauge of the railway, and commit the Commonwealth to the expenditure of all this money, we should get as much information as we need. I think that there is a good deal in the latter part of his proposition, and, that is, that the line should be built somewhat on the betterment principle. If Western Australia and South Australia find the value of their lands largely improved by the construction of the railway, it is only fair that the Commonwealth should reap some part of that benefit. I do not believe, for a moment, in the amendment which Senator Walker has outlined. I would not like to see the line constructed on the land-grant principle, because I think it would be bad in every way. But I consider that the condition laid down by Senator Millen in his amendment is worth consideration. In the first place, I shall vote for his amendment, but, if it is lost, I shall not oppose the second reading of the Bill.

Senator Pearce - No-yes.

Senator VARDON - Does the Minister want it all ". no " ?

Senator Pearce - I would just as soon have it all "no," as have it all " yes."

Senator VARDON - This is no "yes" business with me. I agree with the amendment of Senator Millen, and will vote for it, but, if it is lost, what have I to do? I have to make up my mind as to whether 1 am to oppose the second reading of the Bill or not.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If you condemn the Bill, why have you not the courage to vote against its second reading?

Senator VARDON - Will the honorable senator mind his own business, and allow me to mind mine? He has quite enough to do to manage his own business. If the amendment is not carried, I shall not oppose the second reading of the Bill; but, unless the Government consent to give us the information which hitherto has been withheld, and unless I am satisfied with regard to this Bill when it is through Committee, I shall vote against the third reading.

SenatorLt. -Colonel Sir ALBERT

I move -

That the debate be now adjourned.

Senator Pearce - I cannot agree to it.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I understood that a promise was given to Senator Millen that the debate would be adjourned at about half -past ten.

Senator Needham - Let us hear the honorable senator on the Bill.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The honorable senator will not hear me to-night.

Senator Pearce - All right, then.

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