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Friday, 14 October 1904

Mr MALONEY (Melbourne) - I wish to say a few words in regard, to this matter. In the first place, I differ from the honorable member for Laanecoorie in the view which he takes of the proposed railway as a means of defence. In my opinion, parallel steel rails are the chief factors in modern warfare. I think that the railways of the Continent should be under the complete and dominating control of the Federal Government. 1 approve, too, of the suggestion that a reservation should be made on each side of the proposed line, though I admit the difficulty of getting the two States which are chiefly concerned to agree to set apart a strip fifty miles wide, that is, twenty-five miles on each side of the rails. If such a reservation were guaranteed, I should vote for the construction of the railway. Inasmuch as Western Australia at the present time is the largest gold-producing State in the Commonwealth, it would have been a gracious act on the part of the Government of the State to suggest to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth that the sum required for the proposed survey should be deducted from the Customs duties otherwise returnable to it. If they put an export duty upon their gold, they could easily raise the money themselves. Western Australia is the specially privileged State in the union. However, I have risen chiefly to show that the proposed railway could be constructed without costing the Commonwealth a single penny piece. The island of Guernsey, as honorable members are no doubt aware, is not a dependency of the Empire, but an allied State, because the Channel Islands were never conquered by Great Britain. In 1823 the people of Guernsey wished to build a market-place, but, as in those days borrowing was not so easy as it is now, it was determined to issue £1 notes with which to pay the brickmakers, stonemasons, and other artisans employed in the construction, and they, together with the contractors and shopkeepers, agreed to accept those notes as ordinary legal tender. The market was built, and each year, as the rents were collected, so many of the notes were recalled and burned, and at the end of ten years the people had a splendid rentpr oducing property, the construction of which had cost them nothing in interest, the only financial charge being the expense of printing the notes. That system of payment for public works still prevails in those islands. If the people require a water mill, they do not borrow money at high rates of interest to pay for its construction, but they issue notes such as I have described. . As late as March of this year a note issued in connexion with their education system was recalled and burnt. Mr. James

Harvey, in his work on paper money, published in London in 1877, has written of the Guernsey transaction in these words -

The States of Guernsey having determined to build a meat market, voted£4,000 to defray the cost. The market notes were guaranteed by the whole property of the island, said to be worth £4,000,000 sterling. These notes did not bear any interest, nor were they convertible into the precious metals - they were tokens, not possessing any intrinsic value, but only that conventional or representative value which they received from the authority of the States by which they were issued. They were the symbols of the real money of the island. They were worthless to any other community than Guernsey, and, therefore, there was no inducement to, their exportation. Consequently, they remained permanently in local circulation for local purposes. They were inscribed "Guernsey Meat Market Notes," and numbered from 1 to 4,000, each note representing £1 in the currency of the island. They were legal tender by the authority of the States. With these notes the States paid the contractor, and with them the contractor paid his workmen, and all who supplied him with materials. They were freely taken by tradesmen for goods, by landlords for rent, by the authorities for taxes.

In due season the Market House was completed, rand the butchers' stalls, with some public rooms constructed over them, were let for the total annual rental of£400. At the expiration of ten years all the notes were received by the States and cancelled, but the meat market has returned a clear annual revenue to the Stales, and continues to afford accommodation without having cost a f ai thing in taxes to any citizen of the States.

If a tract of country fifty miles wide were reserved., that would give a good security for a similar Commonwealth note issue, while behind that security would be the guarantee of the Commonwealth Government. In the event of some such method of raising money as that being followed, my vote would gladly be given for the proposed work. At the present time, however, the proposal absolutely stinks in the nostrils of a great number of persons in Victoria, who ask, "Why should the Commonwealth go to this great expense?" The adoption of the method of financing the undertaking which I have suggested would disarm criticism, and is worthy of consideration. I wish to pay my meed of praise to a gentleman who does not wish his name to be made known, who has gathered together books on financial subjects which are absent from every library in Australia. They are books which contain doctrines opposed to the established methods of capital, and have disappeared from the Parliamentary Library and from the Free Public Library, while they are not obtainable in any other of our public libraries. The American people have only just in time rescued from oblivion the narrative of the building of the Guernsey meat market, which I have read. If what 1 have suggested cannot be carried out, I think that the Government of Western Australia might allow the Commonwealth to pay the£20,000 required for the proposed survey out of the Customs revenue otherwise returnable to the State.

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