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Wednesday, 12 September 1906

Senator STANIFORTH SMITH (Western Australia) .-The proposed survey of a railway to connect Kalgoorlie with Port Augusta is naturally of great interest to the representatives of Western Australia, who are, therefore, inclined to dwell at some length on the advantages which the construction of a line of railway over the proposed route would confer upon the Commonwealth. I shall,however, confine my remarks, within, narrow limits; in the first place, because I have already published my views in a newspaper called 'the Traveller, and the proprietors of that journal have been good enough to supply each member of the Senate with a copy of the issue in which my article appears. I understand that a great many honorable Senators have done me the honour of reading my exposition of the case. Therefore it would be a work of supererogation to go over the ground again. The second reason why I intend to speak briefly on this occasion is that I think that honorable members have now made up their minds as to how they will vote on the Bill. The pros and cons have been fairly discussed, and it is not likely that any long speech, however able, would turn a vote. At this stage of the session the obligation devolves upon us to expedite the passage of business, so that as many as possible of the important measures now on the notice-paper may be dealt with before this Parliament concludes its labours. Those who advocate the expenditure of £20,000 for the survey of a route for a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta do so with the more confidence because ' Australia is now enjoying universal and unexampled prosperity, each of the State Treasurers with the exception of the Western Australian Treasurer, having announced a surplus - in one case amounting to as much as £800,000 - while the Commonwealth Treasurer stated in his Budget that the revenue of the past year is the largest we have yet received.

Senator Higgs - We cannot use the surpluses of the States.

Senator STANIFORTHSMITH.No ; but the Commonwealth revenue is now larger than it has been previously. The Government have made certain proposals for the expenditure of money on what are clearly mere experiments. Among these is the proposal to set apart £500,000 for the payment of bounties to encourage certain sorts of production. Without traversing the Bounties Bill on the present occasion, though I hope to have something to say on. it later, I think that the success of some of its provision is at least doubtful, certain industries having been set down for encouragement in regard to the prospects of which there is perhaps insufficient knowledge. It has also been resolved to expend £8,000 on an investigation of the possibilities of trawling on our coasts.

Senator Millen - That expenditure was not unanimously approved.

Senator STANIFORTHSMITH.No; but it was approved. . I shall not care whether the Bill now before the Sen ate is unanimously approved so long as it is passed.

Senator Higgs - Does the honorable Senator regard the expenditure upon the proposed survey as experimental ?

Senator STANIFORTHSMITH.I am about to show that it is not experimental, and will have to be incurred sooner or later. Therefore, there is no chance of the money being wasted, which may occur in connexion with the other projects to which I have referred. We also discussed the question of wireless telegraphy, and more or less cheerfully voted £10,000 without the Ministry having afforded the slightest information as to where it was to be expended. Last session we voted £25,000 towards the erection of a Queen Victoria memorial.

Senator Turley - And I could not get a division of the Senate on the proposal.

Senator STANIFORTHSMITH.That was a proposal of which I approved ; but it was based on a pure question of sentiment. There was no commercial advantage to be obtained. Yet the Senate voted £25,000 for the purpose.

Senator Turley - It was a disgrace to thesenate.

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