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Friday, 12 December 1913

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I am opposed to the action of the other House for three reasons. My first reason is that I disagree with borrowing altogether. A second reason is that I disagree with the construction of a railway in the north until we have started to construct a line from the south. A third reason is that I disagree with the reasons given by the other House for disagreeing with our amendments. The first reason I will not elaborate. Taking my last reason first, the other House urge that they are not in a position to pay for this work out of current revenue. They ought to be. If they want to indulge in the luxury of railway construction in the far north before they have constructed the line from the south, if they have not the revenue available, there is iri this country enough wealth on which to levy to produce the necessary revenue. The arguments adduced by the two previous speakers certainly seem to me to be very sound. The position is that, after fourteen months having been allowed for making a survey of the proposed line, we have not the particulars on which to judge whether the construction of the line is justifiable, or whether the expenditure involved is reasonable. Consequently, we are asked to take a leap in the .dark by this Ministry of sound finance. This Ministry of " all the talents," who, above all other things, enlarged upon their determination to put their No. 14 boot down on extravagance, are proposing in the most essential thing for good government - a proper handling of the finances - that we should take a leap in the dark, and in a large, generous way splash about £400,000 of borrowed money to build a railway which might as well be a railway to Mars or to the moon, having regard to all the particulars that are available to vis. I shall be very pleased if any remarks I have made will have the effect of killing the Loan Bill. 1 wish that the whole Bill, lock, stock, and barrel, were dead, never to be revived. I am sorry that some honorable senators on my side are so inconsistent as to vote for a proposal which means squandering money quite as much as though it was expended on defence.

Senator Findley - Direct your ammunition on the other side.

Senator RAE - I am not going to use soft language to those who happen to be on my own side and throw vitriol on honorable senators opposite. I am strongly of the. opinion that it is a suicidal policy to commence to build this railway from the north. It has been urged that this line will be part and parcel of any system which may be adopted hereafter for linking up the southern States with the far north. But even if that be so - and I, of course, do not attempt to dispute it - I contend that the line will be a positive danger to Australia if we start its construction at the wrong end. I hold that if there is any reason for our military and naVal expenditure, it is the fear that the Northern Territory is open to invasion from coloured races lying to the north of Australia. If it is proposed to build railways to give possible enemies the means of conveyance farther south, that is not my idea of a sane national policy. I consider that the only sane policy is to start construction from Oodnadatta, and to proceed northwards vid the Macdonnel Ranges by whatever route may be adopted. Then we can advance our material for the construction of the line from where it is cheap at a much lesser cost than if we have to convey it round the continent and start building from the north southwards, conveying all the material from the most costly direction into the interior.

Senator Lt Colonel O'loghlin - " They ought to do both.

Senator RAE - If the Government had an earnest desire to do both, I would not mind voting for any proposals which meant' doing both, but if that is not their intention, then I should certainly say that every mile of railway constructed in the north will be a positive menace to Australia. It is giving the enemy, if they should ever land in the northern ports, a means of conveyance by which they can probably get agricultural and pastoral supplies from the south. If a landing were effected, it would be a very simple and handy thing for them to use the railway in order to get supplies.

Senator Lynch - Suppose that this was a proposal to put on a piece of line at the Oodnadatta end, would you vote for it?

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