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Friday, 12 December 1913

Senator MULLAN (Queensland) . - Upon a former occasion one of my objections to this item was that the line to the building of which this £400,000 is to be devoted has not yet been authorized, and that we had no information as to the character of the country through which it would pass. It seems to me ridiculous for the Government to decide to raise money before there is any necessity to do so. The Honorary Minister has said that if we do not decide to build the line the Government will not raise the money. Then, why do we require to sanction the raising of the money? Would the late Government have been justified in asking Parliament to vote £1,400,000 towards the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway before it had approved of the building of that line? Had it done so the proposal would have been laughed out of the Senate.

Senator Pearce - That is exactly what was done in the case of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.

Senator MULLAN - Then it did not evidence good sense on the part of those responsible for that Act. The invariable practice is that Parliament should first decide that money is required for a certain purpose.

Senator O'LOGHLIN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Colonel O'loghlin. - This is merely splitting hairs.

Senator MULLAN - It is not. It is absurd to say that we should first raise £3,000,000, and afterwards decide what shall be done with it. I think that before we assent to this item we should authorize the construction of the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. Yet the Bill dealing with that matter has been deliberately postponed until after the consideration of the message of the House of Representatives relating to this Bill. As Senator Turley has pointed out, a survey of the proposed line was authorized fourteen months ago, and it is only reasonable to expect that the result of that survey and a report on the nature of the country which the line will traverse would have been forthcoming.

Senator Turley - There were only 26 miles to be surveyed

Senator MULLAN - That strengthens my argument. I do not consider myself justified in sanctioning the raising of money for the construction of a railway through country the character of which has not been made known to honorable senators. Our financial obligations are growing daily. They are growing out of all proportion to the ability of the people to meet them. Therefore, it is essential that every proposal involving expenditure, especially loan expenditure, should be carefully scrutinized before it is adopted. In the present instance we are asked to. appropriate £400,000 to build a railway, and we have no guarantee that that railway will be worth anything. But I certainly will do, as I did on a former occasion,, oppose the passing of this sum of £400,000 for the construction of a railway which has not yet been considered by the Senate.

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