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Wednesday, 21 October 1903

Mr POYNTON (South Australia) - I j deeply regret that the personal animus of certain honorable members has been dragged into the discussion of this important question. The whole matter has been overshadowed by personal references.

Mr Kirwan - I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the honorable member is in order in asserting that certain honorable .members are actuated by feelings of personal animus.

Mr SPEAKER - I understood the remark made by the honorable member to be a general one ; but if the honorable member for Kalgoorlie feels that it might be applied to himself and objects to it, I shall ask for its withdrawal.

Mr POYNTON - As one who warmly supports the construction of this railway, and who is anxious to see the work entered upon without delay, I feel called upon to say - "God save the line from such friends as the last two speakers." It is a matter for regret that, in the closing hours of the present Parliament, two honorable members should have allowed their personal feeling "to mar the discussion of a question of this importance. The right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, has expressed the opinion that the proposed Esperance railway is the line that is really required in "Western Australia ; but, if he will refer to the daily newspapers, he will find that only last week the gold-fields representatives in the Western Australian Parliament unanimously declared that the overland line was what they required.

Mr Kingston - I did not say that it was the only railway that should be made.

Mr POYNTON - I have not been here for three years without being subjected to attempts to work on my susceptibilities in regard to the Esperance line, and a good many other honorable members have had a like experience. The Esperance proposal, however, has no connexion with the question of the transcontinental railway. It may be a matter of State concern ; but we have nothing to do with it. It is regrettable that old grievances should have been imported into this question. In reply to the right honorable member for South Australia, I should like to inquire whether, when he sent the telegram to the Premier of Western Australia to which reference has been made, he had in his mind the idea that the Esperance Bay railway was one of the lines that should be constructed 1 I am certain that he had not. The proposal in regard to that line is of recent date, and I am in a position to show how the right honorable gentleman has obtained his information in reference to it. He, in common with others, has been loaded with information in regard to that proposal. Not one bub a dozen efforts have been made to get me to go upon that track. For the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to say that he wishes this railway to be made, and that he is a friend of the proposal, is nothing but cant and hypocrisy.

Mr SPEAKER - I ask the honorable member not to refer to the statements of another honorable member in those terms.

Mr POYNTON - No man in this Parliament is doing more to prevent the consummation of this work than is the honorable member.

Mr Kirwan - The honorable member is quite wrong.

Mr POYNTON - I am not. I have told the honorable member this before, and I am now making my opinion public. It is a scandal that a great public scheme, which, on the face of it, has every likelihood of success, should be dragged in the mire in this Chamber and in the other. I believe that the proposed railway will pay. The press have referred to it as a desert railway, and the wonderful Reform League of Victoria has the effrontery to ask candidates if they are opposed to desert railways, bush capitals, and socialistic legislation. It is necessary to oppose those three things in .order to obtain the support of the league. This, however, is not a desert railway. I have seen maps, plans, and sketches of the country which the proposed line would traverse for a considerable distance towards the border. They were made by one of the surveyors in the South Australian Lands Department, and show that it is good grass land, with rolling downs, and well bushed. Furthermore, if any one looks at the map of the Government Geologist they will see that the artesian belt crosses that tract of country. It is, however, so much beating of the air to discuss the matter now, because if the Government had wished to make a survey they would have made it before now. I blame the South Australian Government more than the Federal Government. Their position is a shameful one. I am positive that Western Australia would not have joined the Federation had it not been for the letters received by the Government of that State from our Speaker, when Premier of South Australia ; from the right honorable member for South Australia ; from Senator Sir Josiah Symon ; and from other leading South Australians. What has the State gained from Federation if she is not to get this railway? Is she to be merely a dumping ground for the productions of the other States? Without the railway she is in no better position than is New Zealand and, without the promise of it, would have had as good reason for remaining out of the Federation. Has the suggestion that a line should be taken from the gold-fields to Esperance Bay anything to do with the proposed transcontinental line? No. It is playing very low down to drag in that issue. If honorable members were honest, why did they not refer to it before Western Australia joined the Federation?

Mr Kirwan - We always advocated the Esperance railway.

Mr POYNTON - The honorable member wished me to organize meetings in the north, but he made no suggestion about the Esperance railway.

Mr Fowler - It was never made a condition in connexion with the construction of the transcontinental railway.

Mr POYNTON - What the people of the gold-fields desire is to be connected with the eastern States, though I admit that they would like to be connected with Esperance as well. They are not willing, however, that the agitation for the Esperance line should prevent the Federal Parliament from sanctioning the transcontinental line. [Debate interruptedand first order of the day called on in accordance with resolution, vide page 6378.]

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