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Friday, 14 October 1904


Mr STORRER (Bass) - It was not my intention to take up the time of the House by dealing with this matter, for it was fully discussed a few weeks ago, and but for the assertion made by the last speaker, that the building of this railway was part of the Federal compact, I should not have spoken. If I could find that the construction of the line was provided for in the Constitution accepted by the people of Western Australia in. common with those of the other States, I should vote for the Bill; but I have failed to discover any reference to it in the Constitution, or to find that there was any Federal compact which would justify us in making this survey.


Sir John Forrest - What about defence ?


Mr STORRER - The argument that the railway is necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth has frequently been used ; but as I dealt with that phase of the question when the matter was before us on a previous occasion,. I shall not now refer to it. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has spoken of the large number of men in New South Wales, and other States, who aire 'anxious to obtain employment, and would readily go to the west. Surely we are not asked to believe that the unemployed in Victoria, New South Wales, or any' part of eastern Australia would travel west by this railway if it were constructed ? Such persons could not afford the high fares which will be charged, and would inevitably choose the cheaper route by sea.


Mr Fowler - People cannot go to the gold-fields by steamer. There is at present a long railway journey to be faced at the end of the voyage to the West.


Mr STORRER - If the railway for which the honorable member is so anxious were constructed, it would still be cheaper to travel to Fremantle by sea, and thence by rail to the gold-fields. If Tasmanian politicians had been as wide awake as was the right honorable member for Swan, that State would have been able to retain its Customs revenue. But the Tasmanian representatives did not ask for that privilege before the Constitution was voted on, and we are now willing to abide by the bargain which was then made. In my opinion, however, Tasmania was very badly treated when she was not allowed to keep her Customs revenue for a time. I do not think that we have any right to vote any sum of money for railways until the States' railways have been taken over by the Commonwealth.







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