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Thursday, 19 May 1904

Mr WATSON (BLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - While matters are in a tentative position, I do not care to answer questions affecting our general policy; but as I referred to this subject yesterday, and am how in a position to give more definite information to the House, I shall be glad to do so. During the last few days, I have corresponded confidentially by telegraph with the Premier of Western Australia; but I am now authorized to make our telegrams public. The telegram which I sent to him is dated 6th May last, and is as follows : -

ReWestern Australianrailway, representations made to me, feeling of members Federal Parliament towards proposal favours belief that opposition would be materially lessened if your Government indicate willingness contribute stated proportion of loss, if any, during the first ten years. As matter under consideration of Cabinet, early reply desired.

To that telegram the Premier of Western Australia replied from Perth oil the18th May, as follows : -

On condition that Commonwealth is allowed ft. free hand as to route and gauge of railway, this. State will be prepared for ten years after line constructed to bear a share of any loss in excess of our contribution on a population basis ; it would be premature to fix exact proportion we are prepared to pay at this stage, but I am confident that it will be liberal, and satisfactory- no doubt the Word intended is " satisfy," not "satisfactory"- the Federal Parliament of our sincerity in this connexion, and our belief that thework will soon be a directly paying one.

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