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Friday, 1 December 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - I hope that the Committee will not accept this amendment. The Government are now in negotiation with both the State Governments concerned, and we are desirous of obtaining such conditions that the Commonwealth will not be hampered in any way in constructing the railway and running it afterwards. I ask the Committee to trust the

Government in this regard. I think we can be relied upon, with the advice of our engineers, to take such steps as will fully safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth.

Senator Stewart - There will be a repetition of the Jervis Bay business.

Senator PEARCE - I do not know that this Government has done anything in regard to Jervis Bay that it has reason to be ashamed of.

Senator Millen - The only thing is that the honorable senator, when he was in Opposition, insisted on the same principle in regard to Jervis Bay as Senator Vardon wishes to insist on in regard to the railway.

Senator PEARCE - That was quite a different matter; and the Government has since taken action to get the area of land at Jervis Bay that I then said was necessary. If the Committee reject this amendment, it does not mean that the Government will not try to get the land that Senator Vardon has in view, or will not get it.

Senator Stewart - Why should not the Government fortify themselves with the opinion of the Senate?

Senator PEARCE - The Government is sufficiently fortified inits position. Moreover, we have the knowledge that Western Australia is very anxious that this line shall be constructed. No Government in that State dare impose such conditions on the Commonwealth as will lead to delay. As to South Australia, I have no reason to believe that she will be less generous in her treatment of the Commonwealth than Western Australia. Why should we put this hard-and-fast amendment in the Bill, when the Government can be trusted to do the right thing ?

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