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Thursday, 19 November 1936

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - Recently, I have been reading a most interesting work entitled, Hie History of Human Stupidity, which contains references to persons with a " one-track mind ", who describe as " mad " all persons who differ from them. That is a sure sign of stupidity. The members of the Labour party from New South Wales are not mad because they differ from other members of that party in regard to the control of aviation.

Senator Arkins - They sometimes show signs of sanity.

Senator BROWN - In the course of my extensive reading, I have learned that genius is closely akin to insanity; and, judging by the remarks which fall from the lips of Senator Arkins, I am sometimes tempted to believe that he is a genius. I am in favour of the proposal contained in this measure, but regret that the Government has not gone further. It is true that some members of the Labour party in New South Wales are not in favour of it, but they are not alone in their opposition, for I notice in the columns of the Labor Daily that the Commissioner of Railways in New South Wales, Mr. Hartigan, speaking at Goulburn on the 25th September, said -

If it had not been for the Transport Coordination Act the tramways might not be in existence to-day. We may soon have a serious competitor in the aeroplane - a competitor that cannot be treated lightly.

As a public servant holding a high office, Mr. Hartigan is afraid of the competition of the aeroplane with the railways. Some of the biggest moaners and. groaners about the losses on the railways are members of tory governments.

Senator Guthrie - Does the honorable senator suggest that we should stand still?

Senator BROWN - I do not suggest for one moment that we should stand still, either physically or mentally. I mention these things to show that those who describe their fellowmen as madmen because they hold different views are people with a one-track mind, and also that among the opponents of this proposal are many besides Labour members in New South Wales. There is a good deal to be said for giving to the Commonwealth the control, not only of aviation, but also of other forms of transport. Had that control been vested in one authority from the beginning, Australia would not have had half a dozen different railway gauges, as at present. I hope that, before long, we shall have an opportunity to give to the Commonwealth the control of most forms of transport. Not only the Commissioner of Railways in New South Wales, but also the Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Garside, has spoken of the competition of aeroplanes with railways. At Werris Creek on the 7th November, Mr. Garside said -

I am of the opinion that the best interests of the community would be served by coordinating rail and air services, and in view of recent rapid development, the time to consider it is now.

When Labour members in the House of Representatives put forward similar arguments they are accused of madness. Aviation is a branch of transport and, I submit, the Commonwealth should have complete control over all trans- port. If this Government were wise in its generation, it would not stand still in this matter, but, as Senator Guthrie has suggested, would accept this opportunity to widen the scope of this referendum, with the object of securing for the Commonwealth powers to exercise full and complete control over not only marketing, but also transport, whether by air, rail, or motor. Although some members of the Labour party in another State may he opposed to the proposal to be submitted at the forthcoming referendum it is the unanimous opinion of members of the Opposition in this chamber that the country should approve of them. Nevertheless, I realize that reasonable and intelligent men who oppose these proposals do so for some good reason. Some of them contend, for instance, that this Government should take advantage of this opportunity to seek an amendment of the Constitution that will give to the Commonwealth full powers to further, by legislative action, the economic well-being of this country, thus avoiding the necessity for further referendums at some future date. There is something to be said, therefore, in favour of the opposition in the other chamber to the Government's proposal ; they cannot be considered, for this reason, to be mad, as some honorable senators have declared.

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