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Tuesday, 31 July 1906

Mr KELLY (Wentworth) .- The next amendment I have to propose is one which has been circulated in the name of the honorable member for New England, and which is of a most important nature. I move -

That after the word"may," line1, the following words be inserted : - " (provided that the States of Western Australia and South Australia shall place under the control of the Commonwealth all Crown Lands for a distance of twenty-five miles on each side of the said railway from terminus to terminus, and that all moneys received from the rental or sales of such land shall be utilized for liquidating the interest on cost ofsurvey, and the balance of interest on cost of construction and working account after deducting earnings of the said railway)"

I do not think that there is any necessity to reduce the area of territory required by the amendment. On a former occasion the Treasurer - whose absence, by the way, I have again to deplore - accepted in spirit this proposition. It was on that occasion first voiced by the honorable member for Parkes, and the Treasurer said that he had wired to the Government of Western Australia to get their acceptance of it. He afterwards induced the House to support the survey proposition, very largely because of such acceptance.

Mr Robinson - The betterment principle.

Mr KELLY - There is a slight difference between the amendment as circulated last year, and the amendment as now proposed. The former simply dealt with land adjacent to the route of the proposed railway in Western Australia, and, as the honorable member for Wannon was able to prove on a former occasion, the value of the actual area proposed to be set aside in that State would not cover a third of the yearly deficit which is expected by our experts to accrue from the construction of the line. Any honorable member who is anxious to see the exact figures which he quoted can look up the report of his remarks. He was able to show that the maximum rental value of all this land in Western Australia is 10s. per thousand acres, and that if every acre of the land were taken up at the maximum rate, still this alleged concession on the part of Western Australia would not wipe off more than, I speak from memory, a third of the estimated annual deficit. My amendment differs from the former amendment, inasmuch as it also asks South Australia to give a similar undertaking to the Commonwealth. It has often been said that the proposal for the construction of the railway is put forward in the nacional cause, and is not submitted from any selfish, narrow, or provincial feeling on the part of South Australia or Western Australia. Therefore I confess I anticipate no objection whatever from the Western Australian representatives to this amendment. They have already accepted it in principle, because they have told us that their State is prepared to agree to its application. Having accepted it in principle, they cannot ' reasonably object to that principle being inserted in this measure. Their word, I feel quite sure, is as good as their bond, but we are here in a business capacity as trustees for the Australian taxpayer. My proposal is one which no Western Australian can reasonably refuse to accept, that is, if it is intended by them to deal fairly with the Commonwealth.

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