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Friday, 1 December 1911


Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - Senator Pearce has asked whether we are going to build a railway costing between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000, and then ask the people of South Australia and Western Australia to give us back that money in the form of the enhanced value of the land traversed. I say, " Yes." Why should we make those States a present of that enhanced value?


Senator Barker - We were given to understand that the land had no value.


Senator SAYERS - At present I do not believe that it would bring in much, but Senator Walker estimates that at some future time it will be worth is. 3d. per acre. I have always understood that the Labour platform contained the principle that the community should reap the benefit of community-created interest. I have advocated that State Governments should construct railways ahead of population into unsettled lands suitable for settlement, whereby additional value would be given to unalienated lands, which would in the end mean that the lines would be built practically for nothing. In maintaining that principle, I have been a little in advance of the Labour platform. Something of the same kind is advocated now. There is no settlement in the country to be traversed by the line. No doubt some of the land will have a value in the future. By building this railway we shall create land values. If the land will only carry one sheep to 20 acres, the value will be considerable in time. It may be fifty years before the people of the Commonwealth get back the money they spend, and in the meantime they will have to bear a loss of ,£70,000 or ,£80,000 a year. We merely ask for fair dealing between the Commonwealth and the States. Surely it is fair that the Commonwealth should receive some portion of the value that it will create to recoup it for the money to be spent. If that had been provided for in the Bill I should have been far more satisfied than I am now. Senator Pearce says that that would not be a fair thing. But is it a fair tiling that the Commonwealth should provide the money with which to construct this railway, and that the States of South Australia and Western Australia should reap, not only the benefit accruing from that expenditure, but also the benefit of the enhanced values given to the land along the route of the line? If the States themselves were constructing the railway, they would, of course, be entitled to pocket the unearned increment. But they are not building the line. If the Minister urges that the area for which Senator Walker's amendment stipulates would be more than sufficient to recoup the Commonwealth for its capital outlay, I am prepared to support a smaller area. But I desire to see the principle affirmed that the Commonwealth shall reap the benefit of the unearned increment. I do not think that the Minister of Defence should hurriedly turn down this proposal. I know that there are a great many honorable senators who share my views, notwithstanding the way in which they may vote upon this amendment.







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