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Friday, 14 October 1904

Mr KING O'MALLEY (Darwin) - I think that the House owes a debt of. gratitude to the honorable and learned member for Parkes for the splendid suggestion that steps should be taken to secure the reservation of the land along the projected route, because the taxpayers of the Commonwealth will have to pay for the construction of the railway. The cost will fall, not upon any one member of the community, but upon the whole of the people of the States. Great corporations often secure millions of acres of land on both, sides of lines of railways, and, locking it up for centuries, prevent settlement along them. If a private corporation were to obtain a. grant of land on each side of this projected railway, the country would probably not be populated for a hundred years. The land would be locked up, just as is the case along some of the railways, in the United States of America.. I. should oppose the selling of the land,, but if the suggestion ma'de by theĀ£ honorable and learned member for Parkes were acted upon, the Commonwealth would be able, by selling the land, to recoup itself in respect of the cost of carrying out the survey, and constructing the. line; Unless I were prepared to vote for the. building of the railway, I should not vote! for the making of the survey.,

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the proper position to take up.

Mr KING O'MALLEY - No honorable member has a right to pledge the revenue of the State which he represents in this way unless he is prepared to vote for the construction of the line if the survey shows that it would be a legitimate investment. I am bound to say, from what I have heard from the right honorable member for Swan - who is perhaps the greatest explorer now in the Southern Hemispherethat I think the line would be a good investment. Every honorable member who proposes to vote for this Bill must not let ft be a salve to his conscience' that he will not do anything further towards the carrying out of this work. The suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Parkes gives me a clearer view of the position than I previously had. I am amazed that I did not think of it myself. It only shows that the honorable and learned member is in a fair way to become a real genuine Socialist, and as a Socialist I hope to follow him. If the report of the' survey party be such as to legitimately recommend the construction of the line, what will be the next step ? The five representatives of Western Australia in this House, although they may be divided on some political issues, are united on this.

Mr Hutchison - This is not solely a Western Australian matter.

Mr KING O'MALLEY - The representatives of Western Australia are pushing it forward. If it were not for them it would be dead.

Mr Fowler - And the people of South Australia are with us.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The building of the line would not have been thought of but for Western Australia.

Mr KING O'MALLEY - It is the Western Australian representatives who have brought this question to its present prominent position. It is their battling and their buttonholing - their declarations that if honorable members did not vote for this railway they might as well clear out of Parliament - that have made this Bill possible to-day. As soon as this survey has shown that the railway ought to be built, what will be the next move on the chess-board? The five Western Australian representatives will be all over the various rooms of Parliament House. - in the streets, and all over the place - praising to the very heavens the glorious opportunity now presented to build this railway to their State. And an honorable member who refuses to support the line will find an organization' as strong as a Japanese army to upset all his calculation. I shall positively be afraid to go into the Labour Party's room.

Mr Hutchison - Nonsense ! Talk sense !

Mr KING O'MALLEY - The honorable member for Hindmarsh is capable of nothing but sense, whereas I. may have been born without any. What I do know is that for the last three years I have heard nothing from the five members of Western Australia but the merits of this line - wherever I went, upstairs or downstairs, I had to listen to the same story. Those honorable members may disagree on other matters, but they are absolutely united, as to the necessity for this line. Why should the Commonwealth not have grants of land in the same way as have private corporations?

Mr Frazer - Let the honorable member take care that he does not play into the hands of the Opposition.

Mr KING O'MALLEY - That interjection is all very fine. When we are spending the people's money, we ought not to think of Opposition, Government, or anybody else, but only of those who sent us here.

Mr Lonsdale - We have only the right to do what is right.

Mr KING O'MALLEY - That is so. I shall vote for this Bill, but on condition that a clause such as that suggested by the honorable and learned member for Parkes is inserted, so that the Governments of Western Australia and South Australia may be called upon to set apart a certain width of. land on each side of the line. Such a provision would enable Tasmania to get back the money which is taken from the people of that State for the . purposes of this railway. What interest have the people of King Island, or of Tasmania generally, in this railway? Of course, when we raise the question of sentiment, or point to the necessity for military protection against outside aggression, Tasmania is interested. I do not desire to take up much time in discussing this matter, but merely to put myself right in the eyes of the public. The Bill should provide that private corporations and private " land sharks " and other " boom boosters," should not be allowed to tie up land, and then demand immense compensation from the Commonwealth before the line can be constructed.

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