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Wednesday, 12 September 1906

Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) . - I hope that the motion will not be prosecuted. I do not think that it is desirable that we should occupy further time in its discussion. It seems to me that the motion is one to shelve the question. At any rate, we should not pass it, for the reason that it could not be given effect to without the shelving of the measure for this session. I am opposed to the proposed railway, and I intend to vote against the third reading of the Bill. But I think there has been a very full discussion on this question in two sessions, with all the information that it would be possible for a Select Committee to get. The members of the Select Committee could not go over the ground, or if they did-

Senator Millen - They would never come back alive.

Senator TRENWITH - Very likely. The Select Committee would cease to exist as such with the close of the session. It is obvious that the members of such a Committee could not, between now and the end of the session, make any inquiry, or submit a report in time to enable the Senate to consider it. I think that if a Select Committee had the fullest possible time to inquire into this matter there is no information it could get that is not already in the possession of honorable senators. We have the reports of gentlemen who have traversed the proposed route, the reports of railway experts who were asked to deal with the question, and also of military experts, and the discussion of the measure has shown that honorable senators have a great deal of information on the subject, and, indeed, as much information as they could be expected to have short of a detailed survey of the line. I do not think we have before us evidence which warrants us in making the detailed survey, but the Senate has decided against that view by carrying the second reading of the Bill. Those who think that the survey should not be made have been beaten, and the majority of the members of the Senate are entitled to have their opinions on this issue respected. To set up a motion which can only frustrate the wish of the majority is a kind of parliamentary fighting which might be warranted where some very great principle is at stake.

Senator Millen - We have already evidence of the fact that we never know what an hour may bring forth.

Senator TRENWITH - Where some great principle is at issue what we are in the habit of describing as " stonewalling " is admissable, and, indeed, meritorious; but I urge thatthe course now suggested is not wise, and is not justified by the circumstances. I shall vote against the motion. We had better let the Bill get into Committee, and see whether it is possible to amend it there in such a way as to render it less objectionable, and, possibly, unobjectionable.

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