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Wednesday, 12 September 1906


Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I should have thought that, seeing that many honorable senators are supposed to be opposed to this Bill, it would not have been necessary for three or four of its supporters in succession to address the Senate. However, I do not know that, at this advanced stage of the debate, I can say anything that will break down the unfriendliness and the un-Federal spirit that have been manifested.


Senator Mulcahy - That is the very worst thing the honorable senator can say. He should not begin by throwing mud.


Senator DE LARGIE - Senator Mulcahy is eternally posing as a model of propriety, and eternally criticising other people; but there is no man in the Senate whose example I should be more sorry to follow than his. He is too fond of carping at others. His general practice is to make a few ill-mannered interjections, and then go out of the chamber.


Senator Mulcahy - When the honorable senator begins to speak.


Senator DE LARGIE - Well, it is no honour to me to have him here when I am speaking. If he cannot conduct himself with some degree of good manners, I would rather not have him present. I should not have taken up the time of the Senate in speaking upon the motion for the second reading had it not been that some honorable senators have made statements which ought to be contradicted, and have thrown out a challenge which, if not taken up, might be said to be unanswerable. I wonder at some of the statements made, because they have been refuted several times. When Senator Styles was speaking he referred to the nature of the country which the proposed line would traverse. After the statements which have been made, from time to time, on the authority of engineers who have reported upon the country in question, either for the State or the Federal Government, very little that is new is left to be said on the subject. If the route were a barren desert, as we are sometimes told, how do honorable senators account for the fact that, as shown by the reports, it is so luxuriously furnished with herbage and trees? Copies of the Western Mail just to hand contain illustrations showing a place known as Black Range, one of the new gold-fields, between 200 and 250 miles from Kalgoorlie. These illustrations show the country under the effects of a storm, which resulted in a rainfall of 4 inches at one time, the consequence being that the place was flooded. A place where such a downfall can be recorded can never be called rainless. What is more, a country that can bedescribed in the language that Mr. Muir uses, in his report on the land between Kalgoorlie and Eucla, cannot properly be described as a desert. He speaks of if as containing millions of acres of splendid . pastoral land, which is at present lying idle.


Senator Givens - Why is it lying idle?


Senator DE LARGIE - It is easy to understand why land so far from settlement is not occupied. Mr. Muir says that the land is well timbered, whilst there is a luxuriant growth of grass and herbage. He also speaks of the presence of salmon gum. It is well known that in the salmon gum country we possess the best agricultural land in Western Australia. The presence of that timber, in fact, is always taken as an indication of the quality of the country. Mr. Muir says -

Interspersed through this forest are numerous flats covered with grass, as well as with salt bush and other fodder shrubs. The soil is of good quality, and the growth of grass and herbage luxuriant. For the next100 miles the nature of the country varies somewhat, being comprised of alternate beds of native oak, salmon gum, and gimlet wood. Belts of spinifex and scrub are also crossed. At about 200 miles rolling downs of limestone formation are met with, covered with a luxuriant growth of grass, and occasionally a salt-bush flat.

This country is described as possessing a beautiful park-like appearance.


Senator Styles - How far does the good land extend?


Senator DE LARGIE - Mr. Muir speaks of 200 miles of it.


Senator Styles - Why does not the State Government build a railway there?


Senator DE LARGIE - If a State having a population of only a quarter of a million had money enough to build a railway, certainly it would not ask the Commonwealth to undertake the "work. But the task is one that no small State could possibly undertake.


Senator Styles - Two hundred miles of railway would not cost so very much.


Senator DE LARGIE - What would be the use of running 200 miles of railway into pastoral- country ? Another Government officer has recently been over this same country, and it is reported -

He fully indorses Mr. Muir's observations as to the promising appearance of the country, and its eminent suitability for pastoral purposes. Far from this country being a desert, there is, according to this authority, no sand within the limits of the wide belt of territory which would be served by the proposed railway. A loam soil covers the limestone formation to a depth of 4 feet, which, were surface water only sufficiently plentiful, would be well adapted for agricultural operations. The more southerly alternative route - that from Kalgoorlie to Eucla - would pass through yet richer country. Along this line the land bears more timber, the prevailing varieties being mulga, South Australian sandalwood (both good fodder plants), and mallee; while cotton-bush, blue-bush, salt-bush, tussock, and annual grasses - such as mitchell, wire, &c. - also flourish abundantly. The climate is perfect, the dryness of the atmosphere preventing the heat from being disagreeable. The whole country abounds with game, both running and flying, which find abundant subsistence on the profusely growing vegetation.

When Senator Styles was speaking to-day, he stated that not a bandicoot, a kangaroo, nor an animal of any description could live in this desert country. Here we have the statements of men who have been through it, and who say that both running and flying game are there in abundance. Surely that proves that it is by no means desert country. If it were we should not find game there, nor should we have the .kind of grass and timber that has been described. Senator Styles also referred to the promises made by prominent men, who were charged with the great task of bringing about the establishment of the Australian Commonwealth. We have been told that no matter what these leading Federalists may have said, this Parliament is not pledged. It is a pity Parliament is not pledged, because the promises to which I refer were taken as pledges by those who listened to the speeches. The people of Western Australia, on the strength of those' promises, entered into Federation. I regret that there is not sufficient morality in the community to insist upon the promises being redeemed.


Senator Walker - " Political morality," the honorable senator means.


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not know whether the honorable senator would call it political; the simple word "morality" will cover what I have in my mind. I can assure the Senate that if the people of Western Australia had not believed that the railway would be built, that their State would thereby be connected with the East, and that the only federation that is worth the name would be brought about, they would not have accepted the Commonwealth Bill until the question was settled.


Senator Styles - Is it not curious that the railway was never mentioned at the Convention ?


Senator DE LARGIE - Then how is it that Senator Dobson read from the minutes of the Convention the statement which he did to-day ? I admit that I have not looked up the Convention debates to see whether the subject was mentioned, but I heard Senator Dobson's quotations.


Senator Dobson - This railway was never mentioned at the Convention. I have Sir John Forrest's authority for saving so.


Senator DE LARGIE - Did not the honorable senator read a reference to it from the Convention debates?


Senator Dobson - No; nothing that I read referred to this railway.


Senator DE LARGIE - Then I certainlymisunderstood the honorable senator.


Senator Styles - I have looked through the index to the debates, and can find no reference to a transcontinental railway.


Senator DE LARGIE - Whether any reference was made at the Convention to a transcontinental railway, I am not in a position to say. However that may be, we must remember that the people of Western Australia did not elect the delegates to the Convention. The interests of Western Australia were placed in the hands of a few men, nominated, not even by the Parliament. L-ut by the Premier; and the goldfields' electors had practically no voice in the matter. Had the delegates been elected by the people, as in Victoria and elsewhere, there would have been no doubt as to the position in regard to a transcontinental railway. I admit that before I entered this Chamber, I had no practical experience of politics or politicians; but, in common with other Western- Australians,

I certainly thought that in view of the explicit and earnest promises given by such statesmen as Mr. Deakin, Mr. Kingston, Sir Frederick Holder, and Sir Josiah Symon, that no obstacles would be raised by any of the other States to the construction of a railway to the West. Had there deen any doubt in the minds of the people of Western Australia, the result of the referendum as to Federation might have been very different. As showing the state of feeling in Western Australia, I may say that when Mr. Vosper, one of the most deservedly popular men in Western Australia, attempted to address a meeting in opposition to Federation, on the ground that a stipulation as to a transcontinental railway should be expressly placed in the Constitution, he could not obtain a hearing, so enthusiastically loyal were the people to the cause of Union.


Senator Styles - I was under the impression that the people of Western Australia hesitated about Federation.


Senator DE LARGIE - The people of Western Australia never hesitated. The only time there was any doubt in this connexion was during a separation movement on the gold-fields ; but as soon as the coastal population abandoned their hostile attitude, that movement came to an end, and all declared for Federation. I mention these facts to show that in the minds of the Western Australian people there was no doubt as to the genuineness of the promises made in regard to a transcontinental railway. Who, for instance, would doubt the promise of such, a sterling democrat as Mr. Kingston? No matter how men mav differ from that gentleman in politics, very few would deny that he is a man of his word. As a matter of fact, before Federation- was adopted by the people of Western Australia, Mr. Kingston proposed that a transcontinental line should be constructed ; but the idea was abandoned "owing to the attitude of the Western Australian Government. The position taken up bv Western Australia at that time was that, with the enormous burden of administering a territory so extensive, an enterprise of the kind was out of the question. The reasonableness of this position will be recognised at once. We have heard a great deal about the heavy load which the administration of the Northern Territory imposes upon the people of South Australia. It must be admitted that that expenditure has been met for a long time by South Australia ; and, in- my opinion, the burden ought to be shared by the other States. The States on the eastern seaboard, where the population is closer, the lands richer, and sources of taxation greater, are much better equipped to pay the cost of administering a territory of the kind than is a handful of people in South Australia or in Western Australia. Great as is the territory held by South Australia, that of Western Australia is still greater, though the population in the latter State is the smaller. These are all considerations which the people of Australia must face sooner or later ; and, in my opinion, it is altogether unjust to ask those who do the pioneering work on the confines of this island continent to bear the heavy burdens to which I have alluded. All these questions ought to be dealt with in a Federal spirit. To-day much ridicule has been cast on the " Federal spirit ,! ; indeed, we have heard Senator Styles declare that when anybody speaks to him of the " Federal spirit " he begins to button up his pocket. I am convinced that Federation will prove a failure if we continue to look at Federal questions from such a point of view. I could understand an honorable senator, in a moment cif pique, occasioned bv continual injustice inflicted on- his State, expressing such sentiments ; but can any representative of Victoria complain of injustice? If we contrast the position of Victoria to-day with her position before Federation, we must admit that no State has gained more byFederal legislation. If it had not been for Federation, it is hard to imagine that there would have been even a population of 1,000,000 to-day in Victoria. That State, however, has now got over the worst; and I repeat that her improved position is due to Federal laws, and I stand here as one who has taken a hand in furthering the present prosperity. As a protectionist, I have always voted for the encouragement of industries in Victoria, knowing well that from such votes my own State of Western Australia could reap no direct benefit. As one who has given a Federal vote on ever*- question since I entered this Chamber, I have a right to demand from Victorians similar treatment in regard to Western Australia. Protection cannot benefit all the States equally, but other means may be found to extend a helping hand ; and the most urgent need of Western- Australia is railway communication with the rest of the Commonwealth. Without a railway Federation will be en- tirely void of any real and substantial benefit, so far as Western Australia is concerned.


Senator Turley - Is this secession?


Senator DE LARGIE - I have said nothing about secession, and the suggestion is unworthy of the honorable senator.


Senator Turley - I thought the honorable senator was arguing secession; I beg his pardon.


Senator DE LARGIE - I am showing, in moderate language, the benefits which Victoria has gained bv Federation; and I have a right to point to the part I have played in creating those benefits.


Senator Turley - Unless Western Australia secures this benefit Federation will be void of any good?


Senator DE LARGIE - It will be void of any good to Western Australia Surely that is a fair argument. To show the way in which Victoria, has benefited by the state of affairs we have brought about in the opening of our Western Australian market to her industries, I have only to quote the Customs returns for the last few years. I find that in the matter of trade between Western Australia and the eastern States Victoria has benefited to a greater extent than all the other States of the Commonwealth combined.


Senator Mulcahy - She was doing so before Federation.


Senator DE LARGIE - I might remind the honorable senator that, -but for Federation, we could have closed our markets to Victoria to a large extent. As a protectionist, I should have adopted that course if Western Australia had remained a separate State, but as a Federalist I have agreed to the markets of the various States being thrown open one to the other. Owing to the liberal protection which Victorian industries received at my hands, and at the hands of other members of the first Federal Parliament. Western Australia has contributed to the trade of Victoria to an extent which justifies some better consideration than that indicated in the speech of Senator Styles.


Senator Styles - Did not the people of Western Australia get their foodstuffs cheaper because of the lower duties imposed on them?


Senator DE LARGIE - Probably they did.


Senator Styles - I suppose that the reason that they got so much from Victoria was that they could get the goods they required from that State cheaper than from any other.


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not believe that the people of Western Australia, any more than the people of any other State, would go out of their way to pay 2s. for what they could get for is. But I should like to inform the honorable senator that if Federation had not been brought about the markets of Western Australia would have been opened to the old country rather than to Victoria. The movements of trade in the State show that since Federation Victoria has been displacing the old country in this direction. That is certainly one of the results of Federation. During the last ten years Victoria has benefited by her access to the markets of Western Australia to the extent of £14,000,000; South Australia has benefited to the extent of £7,500,000; New South Wales to the extent of £5,000,000 ; and Tasmania and Queensland to the extent of about £500,000 each.


Senator Styles - Then South Australia has, in proportion to population, derived the greatest benefit from the trade with Western Australia.


Senator DE LARGIE - I ask honorable senators to consider now how much Western Australia has sold to the other States. How much has Victoria bought from Western Australia? The amount represented by the purchases of Victoria from Western Australia is so small that it is scarcely worth mentioning.


Senator Guthrie - She has paid a good deal for mining shares, and has lost the money.


Senator Pearce - As a matter of fact, South Australians have put more into mining in Western Australia than have Victorians.


Senator DE LARGIE - Yes, more money has been sent to Western Australia from Adelaide than from Melbourne. It is not only in trade alone that Victoria has benefited by her connexion with Western Australia to a greater extent than any of the other States. During the past ten years in the matter of remittances of money from Western Australia, Victoria again heads the list, and has received more than double the amount sent to any of the other States. In the period mentioned, the amount which Victoria has received in this way is over £2,500,000. This is money which miners, who were forced out of Victoria in order to earn a living for themselves and their families, have sent to their families, who have been resident in this State.


Senator Millen - Would they not have done that if there had been no Federation ?


Senator DE LARGIE - I question whether the remittances would have amounted to so large a sum.


Senator Mulcahy - They were doing it largely before Federation.


Senator DE LARGIE - Certainly some remittances were being sent from Western Australia to the other States before Federation, but I would point out that if Western Australia had remained a separate State she could have taken action which would have considerably restricted the flow of money to the other States. Action might have been taken by the Post and Telegraph Department of the State to make it rather an expensive domestic arrangement for a man to be earning money in Western Australia, and sending it to Victoria to be spent. Under Federation, of course, any such action would be un-Federal and wrong. South Australia has received in remittances from Western Australia during the past ten years a sum amounting to £812,886, and New South Wales £009,215. I find that a considerable sum has also been received by Tasmania in this way. This is the State to which Senator Dobson referred when he said that men had cleared out from their families, and forgot to send along anything to keep them. I find that the honorable and learned senator in making that statement was blackguarding the character of those men in a way- that I think was atrocious.


Senator Dobson - That is a shameful thing to say. I said some of them, and I know professionally that some of them have done what I said they did. How dare the honorable senator put into my mouth a slander like that? It is like him.


Senator DE LARGIE - Men who neglect their families are to be found in every part of the world.


Senator Dobson - That is what I say.


Senator DE LARGIE - Senator Dobsonmust have known when he made the statement he did that it was most unfair to many men who went from Tasmania to Western Australia, and have sent remittances to their families in Tasmania. Notwithstanding the honorable senator's weakness for dragging the difficulties of the married state into every argument, I find that £181,000 was sent in the form of remittances from Western Australia to Tasmania.


Senator Guthrie - A good deal of that money was sent to " Adams."


Senator DE LARGIE - A portion of itno doubt was ; but that is so tender a part of the Tasmanian anatomy that I do not care to touch it. Queensland received in remittances from Western Australia the sum of £127,000, a much less amount than Tasmania received in proportion to population. The total amount received from Western Australia by the other States in the form of remittances in the period mentioned amounted to something like £3,000,000. That is a very handsome sum, and it is a sum which, as I have pointed out, might have been very materially reduced if, under Federation, Western Australia had been able to take the action which she might have taken to reduce that amount if she had remained a separate State. Considering that Western Australia has been practically a milch cow for the other States, the least we could expect was that the clear and explicit promises made in pre-Federal days by men whose words we thought could be relied upon would have been fulfilled. Considering the benefit which the eastern States have derived under Federation from Western Australia, that is an aspect of the question which would be considered by those who speak as Senator Styles has spoken to-day. - The honorable senator said that the moment any man speaks to him of the Federal spirit, be begins to button up his pockets, and to look around for some safe place to get to. If that is to be the spirit which is to animate the Senate in legislation, the outlook for the future must be considered to be a very gloomy one. It will certainly not reflect any credit upon the Federal Parliament, and it must tend to retard the good results we had a right to expect from Federation. If people are continually suffering, if the State in which they live is all the time to be placed at a disadvantage, it cannot be expected that representatives of that State, or the people of it, will take all rebuffs kindly, will turn the other cheek, go on paying, and practising the Federal spirit towards those who continue to injure them. Human nature is not built on those lines. We can expect very' little good to come of Federation if each State is trying to make reprisals on the other, and on every question that comes before us, we ask, " Is this going to benefit Western Australia,'' or "Will it benefit Victoria?" I ask honorable senators representing Victoria to consider their position, and to ask themselves whether they are really acting wisely, even in their own interests, in taking up this attitude. I am sure that if they do so, they must see the error of their ways.


Senator Findley - They have not yet had their eyes opened to the benefits of Federation.


Senator DE LARGIE - - That is so. Had the manufacturing industries of Melbourne remained in the position in which they were some six or seven years ago, or had they gone from bad to worse, as was very, possible, the position of Victoria to-day would be very different from what it is. If, instead of having these industries working full time, and every one connected with them prosperous, they had to face stagnation of trade, they would be inclined to look upon Federation very differently. Now, in the moment of their prosperity, they say, "We can afford to treat the smaller States as we please. We have the power, we shall use it in our own style, and for our own interests." I have said that that kind of thing can be taken too far. I hope that it will not be pursued anyfurther. I admit that our case would be considerably weaker had we merely relied upon the goodwill of the people of Australia to build the railway. But we received such clear and definite promises from the leaders of the people of Australia that we entertained no doubt on the point. I think that no one will doubt the honesty of Mr. Kingston's promise. This is one of the earliest promises he made to Western Australia on the subject -

This would indeed be an Australian work worthy of undertaking by a Federal authority, on behalf of the nation, in pursuance of the authorities contained in the Commonwealth Bill. It is, of course, a work of special interest to Western Australia and South Australia; and I devoutly hope that the day is not far distant when the representatives of West Australia and South Australia may, in their places in a Federal Parliament, be found working side by side for the advancement of Australian interests in this and other matters of national concern.

So far, the representatives of Western Australia have been working in this Parliament for the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole, and other States have gained an advantage from our efforts. The time has now arrived when Western Aus tralia can reasonably expect io get an advantage from the Parliament, and all we ask is that that promise shall be honoured.


Senator Guthrie - Would Mr. Kingston say that the time had arrived ?


Senator DE LARGIE - Seeing that three years prior to the date of this letter he proposed the construction of the railway, I should think that he would.


Senator Guthrie - But nine years is a very short time in the history of a project of that kind.


Senator DE LARGIE - I admit that the period is not very lengthy, but I would remind the honorable senator that, while Premier of South Australia - before Federation was likely to come about - Mr. Kingston proposed that the two States should combine to build the railway. His second proposition was made when he saw that Federation was likely to become an actuality, and that the people of Australia should undertake to carry out a -project which it would be impossible for the two States concerned to do.


Senator Guthrie - Some day, but not the present day.


Senator Pearce - Mr. Kingston was a member of the first Federal Ministry which put this proposal on their platform.


Senator DE LARGIE - To be quite sure of the sincerity of South Australia, the Government of Western Australia sent a communication to its Premier, and received from Mr. Kingston the. following reply by wire -

Cannot understand reference to probable reluctance of South Australia to permit Federal construction of railway connecting colonies. We have no fear of any such anti-Federal " dog in the manger " policy.

The Government of Western Australia; feared that the Government of South Australia might use their power under the Constitution to block the construction of the railway, and when they conveyed that doubt in an official communication, Mr. Kingston, who naturally resented the imputation, said that he could not understand how there could be any such idea in the mind of any person, and that, certainly, a " dog in the manger " policy would not be adopted by South Australia. We have also a communication from Mr., now Sir Frederick, Holder, when "Premier of S'outh Australia. On the 1st February, 1900, he addressed to Sir John Forrest- a letter in which, in unmistakable language, he committed himself to the construction of the railway.


Senator Guthrie - Not to the construction of the railway, but to bring an enabling measure before the Parliament of South Australia.


Senator DE LARGIE - In order to enable honorable senators to see whether I have not put a fair construction upon the letter1, I shall, quote the words of the writer: -

Following our conversation as to the possible' blocking of the construction of a railway line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta by the Federal authority, by South Australia refusing the consent rendered necessary by section xxxiv. of clause 51 of the Commonwealth Bill to the construction of the line going through her territory, I regard the withholding of consent as a most improbable thing ; in fact, quite out of the question. To assure you of our attitude in the matter, I will undertake as soon as the Federation is established, Western Australia and South Australia both being States of the Commonwealth, to introduce a Bill formally giving the assent of this Province to the construction of the line by the Federal authority, and to pass it stage by stage simultaneously with the passage of a similar Bill in your Parliament.


Senator Guthrie - And the Parliament of Western Australia did nothing for eighteen months.


Senator Millen - And the Parliament of South Australia has done nothing since that time.


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not remember exactly the time ; but I know that when the attention of Mr. Walter James, the Premier, was called to the 'matter, he brought forward a Bill which was passed through the State Parliament.


Senator Guthrie - There was nothing done by Western Australia while Mr. Holder was Premier of South Australia.


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not think that he held office very long after that letter was written, because, at the first Federal election, he was elected to a seat in the House of Representatives.


Senator Guthrie - That was twelve months after he wrote the letter.


Senator DE LARGIE - At any rate, there was not very much time for anything to be done by Western Australia. But whether there was any delay or not, that does not justify any South Australian politician who gave an explicit promise in saying that, because the Government of Western Australia did not rush a Bill through the State Parliament directly, this survey should not be made. .


Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator cannot blame Sir Frederick Holder for any delay which occurred after he abandoned State politics.


Senator DE LARGIE - I have no wish to blame that gentleman, but I scarcely think that if, instead of Speaker, he were an ordinary member of the other House, his attitude would be different from that which he expressed in his letter of 1st February^ 1900. I have quoted sufficient to show that the gentleman whom I named made a very clear and explicit promise as to what the attitude of South Australia on this question would be as soon as the Commonwealth had set its house in order. It cannot be said that there has been any indecent haste in bringing forward the Bill. A considerable time was allowed to elapse before it was introduced by the Barton Government. It has been brought before the Senate on several occasions, and although the Commonwealth has been in existence for nearly six years, it has not yet been passed. Mr. Deakin, the Prime Minister, was quite as explicit in his promise as were the politicians of South Australia. On his return trip from the old country, whither he went as one of the delegates to see the Constitution Bill put through the Imperial Parliament, he called at Albany, where he was interviewed by some Western Australian Federalists, who hoped to secure his assistance in the cause of Federation. He said he could not visit the rest of the State, as he was anxious to return to Victoria; but the words he used in reference to the railway left, no doubt as to his attitude. He said that Western Australia occupied at least a third of the area of Australia, and that, if it did not join, the Federation would fall far short of what it ought to be. He said that financially it was hopeless to expect that Western Australia could agree to have complete Inter-State free-trade straight away, considering the enormous area of her territory, and the great cost of government, because it would bring about a hopeless state of involvency. He explained that in view of that possibility, the Convention had made certain concessions to Western Australia, which he hoped would be accepted. He added that if any other concession had been asked for by the representatives of Western Australia, it would have been granted. He gave us clearly to understand that had they seriously asked for the construction of the railway to be provided for in the Constitution, their fellow delegates would have been prepared to grant it. In order to satisfy honorable senators that I have not strained Mr. Deakin's words, I shall quote the report upon which I have relied. He said -

If the delegates from Western Australia had put forward at the Convention any other special terms they would have been granted.

It was to a great extent owing to the confidence which Mr. Deakin infused into the people of Western Australia by this statement that, as soon as the Federation was established, the great work of constructing this railway ought to be one of the first considerations, that they decided to accept the Constitution Bill.

It had been urged as an argument against Federation that the people of the Eastern States wished to exploit Western Australia for their own benefit. There need be no misapprehension on that score. He had had private conversations with the representatives of the various Colonies, and it had been agreed that the affairs of Western Australia would require careful management, and the opinion was expressed that Western Australia, practically severed from the other Colonies, would receive the best attention of the Federal Parliament.

Then he went on -

Western Australia would secure the railway if she joined the Federation.


Senator Trenwith - So she will.


Senator DE LARGIE - Does that bear out the assertion that we have been putting forward bogus claims, and that no promises were made?


Senator Styles - What is the date of that statement?


Senator DE LARGIE - It was made when Mr. Deakin was returning from London, where he had been as one of the three delegates sent to represent this country in connexion with the Commonwealth Bill.


Senator Mulcahy - Was he authorized by his State to make that statement?


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not say that the Parliament of Victoria passed a resolution giving him authority to say what he did. I have made no such claim. All I claim is that Mr. Deakin, who was a prominent Federal leader, distinctly gave this assurance. I have no fault to find with him. I think that he has honestly kept his word. I may remark that, before I quoted this statement from him in December, 1904, I pointed it out to him, in order to make sure that there was no mistake. He said, " That is exactly what I said, and what I stand by." Therefore, there can be no doubt about his attitude.


Senator Styles - He is bound by it.


Senator Givens - And he has redeemed his promise.


Senator DE LARGIE - Hehas certainly honestly kept the promise which he made. I find no fault with his attitude. But I quote his words in answer to the argument of Senator Styles - that no promise was made.


Senator Styles - No promise was made on behalf of Victoria. Mr. Deakin was only expressing his own opinion.


Senator Trenwith - He was expressing his personal opinion that Western Australia would get the railway if she entered the Federation.


Senator DE LARGIE - He expressed that opinion as a man occupying a high position in the Federal movement, and that is all that I claim. He went on to say -

The question was one of national policy, and personally he advocated the construction of that railway at the earliest possible moment.

He said further -

For years probably that railway would not pay.

That shows that he made his statement with his eyes open. He did not conceal from himself the fact that the line would not be a payable concern from the start; but he went on -

He believed the State of Western Australia would be connected by rail with the other States, just as the State of British Columbia had been connected with the other States of Canada.

So that honorable senators will see that we have some justification for saying that promises were made to us.


Senator Styles - Yes, by individuals; and they have kept their promises.


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not expect that the people of Victoria proclaimed the promise in chorus. Even in the Senate, although we occasionally have duets, we are not allowed to join in a chorus." Now I should like to read a statement from another prominent Federalist, who took an active part in bringing about Federation in Western Australia. The gentleman to whom I refer did not content himself with sending over telegrams, as he did on the night before the poll, but also wrote a long letter to the leader of the Federal movement in Western Australia. I am referring to Senator Symon. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak in Kalgoorlie, and in that address he stated that, if Western Australia came into the Union, there was nothing more certain than that the gold-fields would be connected with South Australia by rail. He spoke from a very lofty stand-point throughout, but that was the sentiment of his speech.


Senator Styles - He has denied in the Senate that any compact was ever entered into.


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not think so. I have quoted sufficient to show that there was an understanding with Mr. Kingston and Sir Frederick Holder.


Senator Styles - But Senator Symon denies it.


Senator DE LARGIE - He may have disputed the meaning of the terms, but I do not think that he would deny that there was an understanding. What I am about to read is a letter which Senator Symon sent to Mr. Walter James, the leader of the Federal movement in Western Australia. It is dated Adelaide, 27th June, 1900, and was published in the West Australian of July 9th. It says -

My dear Mr. James, -

I thank you and all our Federal friends for the great compliment you paid me in inviting my co-operation in your Federal campaign for the acceptance of the Commonwealth Bill at your coming referendum. I regret I am unable to definitely accept your invitation. My engagements just at present are so numerous and pressing that I can hardly see my way to arrange for the necessary visit to your Colony. I rejoice that the people of Western Australia are at last to have an opportunity of directly voting upon the question, and joining in the auspicious union which is to make all Australia the great Anglo-Saxon nation under the Southern Cross.

I am sorry that Senator Symon is not now in his place to help to carry out the promise that is referred to in such high-falutin language in this letter -

Personally, I have no misgivings as to the result of the people's vote. I sincerely believe that the patriotism and national aspirations of the great body of the people of Western Australia will rise superior to petty provincialism, and emphatically declare all Western Australia insists upon taking the grand part which belongs to her, and for which she is so well fitted, in the Australian union.


Senator Styles - Will the honorable senator allow me to confirm what I said a few moments ago bv reading what Senator Symon said as to the compact. In my speech I said -

Therefore South Australia has not broken any arrangement made. If any compact at all was made, Western Australia has broken it.

Senator Symoninterjected

There never was a compact.


Senator DE LARGIE - I suppose Senator Symon, if he were in his place to-day, would, with his usual lawyer's ability, raise a point as to what was meant by " compact." But I am quite satisfied that while he might dispute that there was a " compact," he would not attempt to wriggle out of the responsibility for his own words in his letter to Mr. Walter James. He went on to say -

The national and sentimental aspect - if one may say so, has always been to me the largest and most powerful influence. But at the same time there are immense material advantages to Western Australia in coming into the union now which would be imperilled, if not altogether taken away, should she stand aside or postpone , the auspicious day. Amongst these advantages which I take the liberty of suggesting, you should not overlook the following ; -

1.   Federation must inevitably give to Western Australia at a very early date a transcontinental railway line, upon which your and our hearts are set. That will be one outward and visible link to join Western Australia with the rest of the federating Colonies. In my belief the acceptance of the Commonwealth Bill by Western Australia will mean the speedy inauguration of that work.

I am sorry that Senator Styles has gone out of the Chamber. His action exhibits the customary fairness of certain politicians, who, when they have scored a little point - no matter how miserably small it may be - clear out as quickly as possible to avoid hearing what may be said in answer to them. I make no appeal to Senator Styles, whose mind - or what the honorable senator calls his- mind - is made up for him by the Melbourne Age, and the only hope of his voting for this proposal is another change in the policy of that newspaper. There is no doubt as to Senator Symon's attitude, as expressed in the letter, in which he proceeded to enumerate other benefits which Western Australia was likely to enjoy under Federation. For instance -

It will also mean the immediate adjustments of all mail arrangements to the satisfaction of the West, and, with the goodwill of the East, the interests of all federating colonies will be identical, because whatever is for the benefit of one integral part of the Union, must be looked upon as for the benefit of all. Friction will be removed, and causes of all antagonism in respect of such matters must largely cease.

3.   Western Australia will have the immediate benefit of the enormous - I use the word advisedly - fiscal concessions made under the Commonwealth Bill. I . have always thought these concessions were under-estimated in your Colony, just as we found, during our referendum campaign here, they were over-estimated, and considered to be far too advantageous to your people. They were, however, agreed to, and we are satisfied that you should have all the advantages they will give you.

4.   The interests of the goldfields, and the goldfields' population, will be reconciled with the interests of the population of Perth and Fremantle ; the bitterness of possible separation will become a thing of the past, and the source of acrimonious agitation in that direction will be avoided.

That was written when the agitation on the Western Australian gold-fields for separation from the rest of the Colony - an agitation in which Senator Smith took part - was at its head -

5.   Western Australia will necessarily be placed in the position of being the front door - the nearest point - to Europe and the mother country of United Australia.

6.   We in the East will welcome Western Australia with open arms, and to her will belong the triumph of having rounded off the Federation, and made its borders co-terminous with the ocean.

There are many other material advantages which time fails me at present to enumerate, but I cannot forbear mentioning these few which be on the surface. I need hardly add that my services are at the disposal of the people of Western Australia, if they desire them in any way in which they can further the great cause, and you are at liberty to make what use you please of this letter.

I think I have quoted sufficient to prove what I set out to prove, namely, that the people of Western Australia had undoubted promises from the leading men of South Australia. Victoria, and other States that a transcontinental railway would follow Federation. The people of Victoria spoke through their then mouth-piece, so far as Federation was concerned, in the person of the present Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin ; and unless it can be shown' that these promises were fallacious I hope we shall hear no more of the contention that Western Australia has no justification for relying on the inducement then held out. If the Commonwealth Parliament cannot approve of the construction of the transcontinental line, we ought, at all events, to hear a better reason advanced than that no promise was held out to the Western Australian people that if they joined the Union thev would be placed in communication bv land with the rest of the Commonwealth. The only way in which those promises can be honoured is by passing the Bill now under consideration. The survey proposed would undoubtedly prove of great advantage in opening up a wide extent of auriferous country ; and, under such circumstances, the benefits would not be confined to Western Australia, but, like those which followed the discovery of the existing fields in the West, would extend to every State. Bearing in view the enormous areas of auriferous country, it is possible, and probable, that in the future there will be finds equal to those of the past. The proposal of the Western Australian Government to send out a prospecting party with the survey party has met with some hostile criticism. I can promise that if a Government survey party be sent out, mamprospecting parties besides that organizedby the State will accompany it. Within my knowledge there are many men who, if thev had reasonable hope of succour in time of difficulty or stress, would prospect that part of Australia, and therefore it can easily be realized that, if we pass this Bill, there will be spent, not. only the £20,000 voted by this Parliament, but much more, as represented by the expenses of both the State and private prospecting parties. Those parts of Western Australia where there are now flourishing populations were at one time regarded as a wilderness, simply because we knew nothing whatever about them ; and I am satisfied that there are yet great discoveries to be made. If only on the ground that a Bill of this kind would be the means of directly and indirectly providing employment, the expenditure of £20,000 would be fully justified. If we are to prove ourselves more worthy than the blackfellow of the ownership and control of this Continent, we must make better use o'f our possession. That can only be done by exploring the interior and developing the country in a practical, common-sense way. If we confine our attention to the coastal fringe, we shall prove ourselves but little better than the coloured people whom we are gradually displacing ; and that, of course, would not be creditable to us as a white race. Nothing attracts population more than the discovery of new gold-fields, as the history of Australia and other countries proves most conclusively. In my opinion, the discovery of new gold-bearing areas is not only quite possible, but probable, and I appeal to honorable senators to consider the matter most carefully before they vote against the measure before us.







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