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Thursday, 9 October 1902

Mr KIRWAN (Kalgoorlie) - I think that I was the first to refer to this matter in this Chamber. Some weeks ago I asked the Government if facilities would be given to honorable members to visit the various States during the recess. I was particularly impressed with the necessity for such visits by my conversations with many of those whom I met during a recent trip to Western Australia. I found that they knew nothing of the federal members, and I know that the majority of honorable members are absolutely ignorant of the conditions obtaining in Western Australia. Next session we shall be called upon to consider the proposed construction of the transcontinental railway, which will cost millions of pounds. The facilities I asked for, namely, steamer fares between Adelaide andFremantle for all members desirous of visiting the western state during the recess, even if all the members of this House went west, which was not likely, would not cost more than a few hundred pounds, and surely that amount would be profitably expended in the investigation of a proposal which will cost millions. We have already spent some thousands of pounds in theendeavour to select a suitable site for the federal capital, and the construction of a transcontinental railway is quite as important a matter.From the way in which many honorable members have spoken in this chamber and out of it, they seem to consider that Western Australia is a huge sand patch, and that it would be a great mistake to construct a line of railway to that State. I ask such honorable members to visit Western Australia, and to see for themselves what has been done by the energy and enterprise of its people. They will be able to judge as to the huge timber, mining, agricultural, and pastoral resources of the country, and they will be impressed with the necessity of uniting the eastern and western portions of the Commonwealth by railway. If the railway had been constructed honorable members would have been enabled to travel to and fro under conditions similar to those prevailing in other States, and surely in the absence of railway communication some facilities should be provided. I think that the objections raised by certain representatives of Victoria are in very bad taste. We have been required to remain in that State for eighteen months, and we have naturally been affected tosome extent by our environment, and have gained a considerable knowledge of local resources and necessities. The representatives of Victoria should return us the compliment of enabling us to demonstrate the extent and value of our resources. I am very glad that the Government have taken a liberal view of this question, and I think the newspapers have exaggerated a very simple proposal to an extraordinary extent. No extravagant expenditure needbe incurred, and it will only be in accordance with the spirit of fair play if equal facilities are extended to honorable members to visit all portions of the Commonwealth.

Mr. L.E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I hope that the honorable and learned member for Indi will define his position as clearly as he expects the Minister for Home Affairs to place his attitude before honorable members.

Mr Isaacs - I thought I had done that very well.

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