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Thursday, 20 June 1946

Mr WARD (EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for External Territories) - At the last conference in Sydney a month ago, a deadlock did occur. It was due, not to a dispute between the States and the Commonwealth, but to the' fact that two of the States could not agree about the order of priority for a. particular section of work. The matter has since been considered by Cabinet, and I have been authorized to conduct direct negotiations with those States which are prepared to co-operate with the Commonwealth. As the result of this authorization, on Wednesday next I shall be meeting Mr. Cain, the Premier of Victoria, and Mr. Playford, the Premier of South Australia, with a view to considering an agreement so that the section of the work which lies within their State boundaries may be undertaken. Following that, I am to have a conference with the Premier and the Minister for Transport in New South Wales to consider sections of the work involving the standardization of the railway gauge between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. We hope that eventually the other States that have not been quite so co-operative in the past will adopt a more reasonable attitude. Queensland and Western Australia in particular. The Commonwealth, which is anxious to have this great work commenced as earlyas possible, regards the unco-operative attitude of some of the States as merely a temporary hindrance to the successful implementation of the whole scheme.

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