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Wednesday, 2 October 1912


Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - I think that the Government were perfectly justified in bringing forward this proposal for making a survey for a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. 1 was very much struck by some of the remarks made by Senator Givens this afternoon. They were very much to the point. There is a great deal to be said in favour of making surveys from various ports in the far north inland, and ultimately building railways from those ports. The honorable senator referred to some of the Queensland ports, but only mentioned half of them. As you know, Mr. President, railways proceed from 'he coast of Queensland inland, from Brisbane, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Bowen, Townsville, Cairns, Cooktown, and Normanton. The northern part of Queensland has been very fortunate in having railways running from the coast inland, because the coastal districts, as a rule, offer facilities' for settlement, and therefore afford ready means of access inland. Many of the places referred to owe their origin- to the pastoral industry. Settlement was afterwards augmented by the opening up of the- mining industry. For instance, Rockhampton was taken up originally for pastoral purposes. When the Canoona rush broke out in 1859, it brought a great many goldseekers there. Then they had the Peak Downs diggings, and ultimately Mount Morgan. The district was therefore supported both by pastoral and mining industries. Going further north, Cooktown was developed in much the same way. The Palmer diggings broke out, and led to Cooktown going ahead. Bundaberg, is an agricultural district. The same remark applies to Cairns. Senator Givens was; quite right in what he said about the northern part of Queensland having, gone ahead so well, and in pointing out that there is no reason why the Northern Territory should not go ahead similarly. He omitted one little point, which I propose to mention. It is quite true that we have established a White Australia policy, but it is also impossible to deny that the northern districts of Queensland went ahead largely in consequence of the employment of indented kanaka labour. We have prevented the employment of that labour now, but we cannot forget how valuable it was in former days in Queensland. As- to the proposed survey, I recognise that the Commonwealth has made an agreement with the South Australian Government, and that agreement must be carried out. What is now proposed is the first step towards building the trunk, line which, will have to be constructed in time. I think, also that the. Katherine River would not be a bad place at which to establish freezing works, because I understand that it. is the centre of a large, pastoral district.. Hereafter we shall know what. the. intentions of the. Government are in respect of future policy. It may be determined to make the Katherine River the point of departure for a railway eastward. I do not say that this Government will make such a proposal, but at the same time, if. the- Northern Territory goes, ahead, we ought not. to have any jealous feelings in regard to assisting progress there, even if we have to build railways to meet the lines running- to the borders of Queensland and New South Wales. I am altogether with the Government in their desire to have the survey completed. I anr, however, one of those oldfashioned people who think that if we are to make a railway right through to Oodnadatta, we- may have to consider the matter of making partial payments in land grants: When we remember what has been done in Canada and the United States, itf must be admitted that there is something to be said in favour of that system. 1 take this opportunity of thanking the Senate for granting me two months' leave of absence on account of sickness.







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