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Wednesday, 1 November 1905

Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia) - A great deal of attention has been directed to Western Australian senators. The plea of urgency has been put forward, in the belief, I presume, that we from Western Australia might make some terrible mistakes in casting our votes on this question. I say at once that I support those honorable senators who are so anxious that this contract shall be ratified. If I had had the slightest doubt as to how to record my vote, the eloquent, thrilling, and Federal appeal made by Senator Givens would certainly have prevented me from taking one step in opposition. I favour the ratification of this contract, because I believe that it represents the national spirit which has been so much lauded and which ought to be recognised and fostered by honorable senators, no matter from which State they may come. On those grounds, I feel that gratitude which all Western Australians ought to feel to Senator Givens for his beautiful homily on the Federal spirit. As the honorable senator stood there so clearly defining our position as the citizens of a great nation, who ought to extend their view beyond the confines of any one State, I wondered whether he was the same senator who, not long ago, on the floor of this Chamber, appealed for mercy and protection from Western Australia, in case that State might steal £2,500 of Queensland money in an endeavour to further the unity of this great Commonwealth. We are ready and anxious to have some line of communication between Queensland and Canada and other countries with which we desire to have relations in the way of trade and commerce. But when it is a matter of strengthening the Federal tie, and 'uniting the States of the Commonwealth more closely, we show a very small spirit indeed. We then exhibit our selfishness to the full, and it is simply a matter of getting the big crowd to squelch the small fellow. I refuse to be a party to anything of the kind, even though other people may plead guilty to leanings in that direction. I shall vote for the ratification of this contract, because I believe that such services are essential to the welfare of Australia, and because each State ought to be prepared to pay its share irrespective of any particular or immediate advantage to be gained. On that point I wish to place special emphasis. Senator Gould reminded us that the development and prosperity of New South Wales affected proportionately all the other States; and the same argument may be applied in the case of Queensland. When Western Australia prospers, however, there is a very different song.

Senator Lt Col Gould - No, no!

Senator HENDERSON - It would appear that in the prosperity of Western Australia there lurks a sort of enmity towards the eastern States. I can only trust that we shall cultivate the Federal spirit clay by day.

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