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Friday, 14 October 1904

Mr REID (East Sydney) (Minister of External Affairs) . -I believe that every honorable member is in. full sympathy with the object which the honorable member for New England has in view. If such precautions as he suggests had been taken from the beginning, in connexion with the extension of railways throughout Australia, I believe that the whole of our railway debts would be represented by the value of the lands in the neighbourhood of the lines. Innumerable difficulties arise where the land has been alienated, but I believe that there is no such difficulty in connexion 'with almost the whole extent of. the country to be traversed by this projected1 line..

Mr Page - What afcout South Australia?

Mr REID - I understand that the whole of the country is within the Crown lands of South Australia and Western Australia. We cannot in any way interfere with the management of those Crown lands, either by the Parliament or the Government of South Australia, or by the Parliament or Government of Western 'Australia. My honorable friend, I am sure, does not intend that we should1-. But there is an obvious utility in directing the attention of those within whose government such matters are to the importance of the step suggested, and I can assure the House that I shall feel no difficulty in my own relations' with the Premiers of those or other Australian States in entering upon the fullest correspondence with them on such a matter as that now before us.

Mr Thomas - South Australia was prepared to give the land to a private company to build the railway.

Mr REID - I feel sure that in all these matters of great public importance, there will be no sensitiveness preventing the free interchange of views ; and I can assure my honorable friend, the member for New England, and also the honorable member for Newcastle: - who made the most important suggestion that as the work progresses surveys for mineral purposes should be made - that while these are matters which are entirely beyond our individual power as a Commonwealth, I feel confident that the different States Governments will be only too glad to have our assistance and cooperation in dealing with them. I can assure the House that all these matters will be placed fully before the Governments concerned.

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