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Friday, 14 October 1904

Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan) - I take no exception to the honorable member's desire that the States through which the proposed railway will pass should reserve a reasonable area upon each side of it, but I fail to see how they can do that until the route has been determined. I am sure that if the Ministry make representations upon the subject to the Western. Australian Government no difficulty will be experienced in inducing them to give effect to their views. At the same time, nobody desires that any . mineral wealth which may be discovered shall not be worked. Personally, I am of opinion that no minerals will be found in Western Australia except within about 250 miles of Kalgoorlie. Indeed, in a private letter which I received the other day it was stated that a mining lease comprising ninety-six acres had been 'applied for, about 250 miles to the east of Kurnalpie, which- would be somewhere near the probable route of the railway. Of course it would be altogether adverse to the interests of the Commonwealth to place any restrictions whatever upon the working of mineral leases: But I am convinced that no difficulty will be experienced in inducing the Government of Western Australia to reserve from alienation- any reasonable area upon each side of the projected line. I am sure that the representatives of that State share my opinion. Probably it would be advisable to set apart, say, twenty or thirty miles upon each side of the railway, but of course there would be nothing to prevent that area from being leased for pastoral purposes, as the land is quite, suitable for pastoral purposes when water is procured. At the present time, however, we do not know the exact route which the line will follow. I can assure honorable members that it is not merely the value of country which the railway will traverse which induces me and those associated with me to advocateits construction. I. am impelled to do so from a desire to connect the eastern States with Western Australia, and thus to make Federation a reality. Until a Bill authorizing the construction of the line is before us, I think that the honorable member's suggestion is premature.

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