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Thursday, 9 October 1902

Mr KIRWAN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - When Sir John Forrest was in Perth, in December last, he stated to a press interviewer -

I have very much pleasure in stating that before my departure from Melbourne, Mr.. Barton and the Ministers agreed that a conference between the principal engineering officers of each of the States of the Commonwealth should take place as early as possible.

The interviewer then asked - " What is the object of that conference?" Sir John Forrest replied : -

The officers sitting in conference will deal with the reports that have been furnished by Mr. Muir and' the officer who represented the South Australian Government, on the nature and character of the country between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta. The engineers will be specially required to report upon the gauge, the route, the probable cost, and the probable revenue and expenditure in connexion with that important project. I strongly urged this proposal, and it was readily agreed to, as it will be the means of placing the matter in a definite shape before the Federal Parliament.

Sir EdmundBarton, when at Fremantle, on 12th May last, said -

It had been his pleasing duty that day to write to Mr. Deakin, who would preside at the Cabinet meetings during his absence, asking him to expedite the appointment of a committee of the leading constructive railway engineers of the eastern States to consider the reports that had already been made, and to make further inquiries so as to see whether the data laid down in these reports would commend their approbation as engineers.

I would ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the committee of engineers referred to will be appointed in time to permit of their report being laid upon the table at the opening of next session, so that Parliament may be able to consider the project, and whether the Minister has any general information to offer regarding the prospects of the railway ?

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