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Friday, 14 October 1904

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - It is my misfortune that I cannot view this question in that broad, Federal spirit which seems to animate some honorable members. Queensland should not be asked to contribute anv money towards the construction of a railway such as that now proposed. The line would pass through territory which, so far as we know, is a desert. If the country had been any good, it. would have been taken up by capitalists long ago. Some honorable members have referred to the probabilities of obtaining abundant supplies of artesian water, whilst others have expressed the belief that valuable mineral deposits will be brought . to light. If the countrv is mineralized, however, no artesian water will be struck, because artesian water is obtained only in country of cretaceous formation, which never occurs in a mineral belt. As is well known, ever since Queensland joined the Commonwealth she has suffered a very considerable loss of revenue, and I object to that State making any contribution towards the cost of a survey of the proposed line. If Western Australia and South Australia desire to obtain the benefits which a Transcontinental Railway would confer they should at least defray the expense connected with a trial survey of the route to be traversed. The Commonwealth would then be in a position to decide whether or not it should undertake the construction of the line.

Mr Carpenter - Who is defraying the cost of the abolition of kanaka labour in Queensland ?

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - The honorable member may take all the kanakas and all the black, brown, and brindle population of Queensland. We do not want them. I maintain that the Commonwealth is paying nothing whatever for the abolition of the: kanakas. As a matter of fact, it is deriving a revenue from the sugar which is produced exclusively by white labour. I fail to see that the proposed railway will confer any benefit upon the States other than South Australia and Western Australia. Queensland is in a very impecunious position at the present time. Relatively to population, she is burdened with one of the heaviest national debts in the world, and I object to that State being called upon to make any contribution towards the construction of a Transcontinental Railway. I know that my constituents share my views upon this question. I would further point out that if this line is ever built it will not pay for axle grease. Reference has been made to the gold-fields. I was engaged in mining some few years ago, and, speaking as a practical man, I believe that the Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie goldfieldswill decline within afew years.

Mr Fowler - Has the honorable member ever been there?

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - Yes ; I was there before the honorable member.

Mr Fowler - I do not think so.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - At any rate, I was there in 1894.

Mr Fowler - I was there prior to that.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - The honorable member could not see much prior to that period, for the simple reason that there was nothing to be seen. Kalgoorlie may be a very fine place to-day, but there is no doubt that it is declining in importance, anc? in another decade I predict that neither Kalgoorlie nor Coolgardie will be what they are at present.

Mr Frazer - They will be better.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - I have very grave doubts upon that point. We have not. a sufficient guarantee of -their permanency to justify us in expending money upon the survey or construction of the proposed line. For that reason I shall oppose the Bill upon every possible opportunity.

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