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Wednesday, 19 September 1906


Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I am quite satisfied that if the supporters of the Bill had been shown anything like fair treatment by its opponents in the matter of pairing, we should not nave had to wait for the attendance of an honorable senator who we know is detained.


Senator Millen -The honorable senator admits that he is " stone-walling." That is honest at any rate.


Senator DE LARGIE - I admit that we have to see that our number is here. I am quite candid. I do not stand up in a hypocritical way and make a statement in which I do not believe. The supporters of the Bill have been very unfairly treated by its opponents. Not only in this session, but in past sessions we have been refused pairs. When Senator Findley was lying on a sick bed we were refused a pair for him. All kinds of unfair tactics have been adopted. In one session the Bill was talked out and it was supposed to be still in existence when the Parliament met again. Why should we not see that a supporter is afforded an opportunity to be present when we know that he has been detained by a cause over which he had no control ? Senator Neild has talked about his .pair, but I should say that what was done was quite usual under the circumstances.


Senator Col Neild - If the honorable senator says/ that, he knows nothing whatever of parliamentary practice.


Senator DE LARGIE - If the honorable senator is referring to parliamentary tactics, then I must bow to his superior knowledge. If an honorable senator is fairly and reasonably paired with an opponent, it surely does not matter with whom he is paired. As to the proposed recommittal, it requires the exercise of imaginative power to conceive what the reasons may be for such a step. If the Bill had been rushed through, there might have been some justification for reopening the debate, but every possible argument for and against the measure has been submitted. Such wild and random guesses have been made as to the probable cost of this line and other matters, that the only course remaining is to have a proper survey made. Unless an odd person or two happens to traverse the country from South Australia to Western Australia, there is no possible means of getting any information regarding the country.


Senator Sir William Zeal - Is not' that a very strong argument against the railway ?


Senator DE LARGIE - I do not say whether it is an argument either for or against the railway. I admit that in view of such an enormous extent of territory, very few men would undertake such a task; but people have undertaken it, including a man and his family, who were accompanied by domestic animals and stock. The party arrived without a single loss, and in the best of condition, proving that this country is not the desert which it has been described. The family I refer to thought so much of the country that 'when they reached Kalgoorlie they at once put in a claim for a selection of a part of the land over which they had passed. The late Mr. O'Connor, Chief Engineer of Western Australia, who may be described as the greatest engineer the Commonwealth has yet produced, gave an estimate as to the probable cost, and this estimate was practically adopted by the Commission subsequently appointed, consisting of the EngineersinChief of the various States. It was not merely a .matter of taking Mr. O'Connor's word, because the Commissioners visited both ends of the proposed line, and also called at Eucla, and at each place took evidence. These engineers had their professional reputation at stake, and were, further, responsible to their various States for any recommendations which they made : and no better case for the construction of the line could be made out than that found in their report. Then we had the exhaustive report by Mr. Muir; and altogether it appears to me that no further information can be elicited, except that important information which only a thorough survey can supply. Under the circumstances, a recommittal of the Bill would be a waste of time.

Sitting suspended from1 to 2.30 p.m.


Senator DE LARGIE - As it has been sufficiently demonstrated that no attempt .has been made to make out a case for the recommittal of the Bill, I shall not take up further time. It is easy to understand the motive at the bottom of the win, tie, or wrangle proposal which has been submitted to delay the passage of this Bill. I intend now to let the motion go to a vote. If other honorable senators had been equally willing to permit the question to be settled by the votes of the honorable senators, and had not desired to prevent the vote of any member of the Senate from being effective, we should have settled the matter before now. Seeing that honorable senators are now in their places, and it is possible to take a vote, I shall not occupy any more of the time of the Senate.







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