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Wednesday, 27 May 1914

Senator MILLEN - The answers are -

1.   Yes.

2.   The Commonwealth Government is paying higher rates of wages for labourers at Kalgoorlie than those paid by State Departments and the Mines. Piece-worker Morris, who abandoned his work, was paying a special rate for specially selected men.

3.   The West Australian Government admitted that it would be eighteen months late in supplying up to contract stipulations, and in consequence of the contractor's manifest failure, the contract was cancelled.

4.   In order to assist the West Australian Government, arrangements were made with Mr. Scaddan to supply 500,000 powellised karri sleepers and 500,000 jarrah sleepers, but it is much regretted that Mr. Scaddan's Government has receded from Mr. Scaddan's undertaking in this regard. 5 and 6. No. The clause suggested by the Commonwealth Government in the draft agreement, and which has been struck out by the State Government, reads as follows : - " The contractor further undertakes and agrees that neither he nor the Government of the State of Western Australia will in any way whatsoever, whether by refusal to issue licences to cut or obtain timber, or by the revocation of any such licences or otherwise, impede or place any difficulty in the way of persons or corporations obtaining supplies of jarrah sleepers for the purpose of fulfilling contracts made by such persons or corporations with the Commonwealth, or any person on behalf of the Commonwealth. Provided, however, that nothing in this clause will be deemed to impair the right of the Government of Western Australia, or the proper officer thereof, to revoke any licence for a breach of the conditions thereof which would render such licence liable to revocation." 7, 8, and 9. The contract was cancelled in the public interest, and if the cancellation was inimical to the interests of the Administration in Western Australia, care should have been exercised to avoid the absolute failure in deliveries which led to its cancellation. The Commonwealth has endeavoured to obtain practically all the sleepers for the railway from

Western Australia, and if the State, by failure to supply, and interference with private timber-getting, prevents this being done, the Commonwealth should not be blamed.

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