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Wednesday, 19 September 1906

Question put. The Senate divided.

DIVISION:AYES 14 (1 majority) NOES 13 PAIRS 0
AYESNOESPAIRS

Majority ...... 1

 

AYES

 

NOES

 

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -

That the report be adopted.

Senator Col. NEILD(New South Wales) [6.20]. - There are many objections to the adoption of the report to-day. Full discussion is desirable in view of the question of public policy which is involved. We have heard a great deal about the monetary aspect of the Bill, but that, large as it is, is really the smallest. The State which I represent will have to contribute about one-third of the expenditure, and Victoria nearly one-third, the remainder being supplied by the other States. The "golden State" of which we have heard so much, is now the mendicant State, appealing for funds for a survey of its own territory. That is a melancholy position for a State which has been preening itself on having provided a livelihood for its poor relations in the east. We have been deluged and nauseated with statements about the large sums of money which Western Australian workers have sent to their poor friends in Victoria and elsewhere ; but now we find Western Australia appealing to the other States to pay for the proposed survey. I do not know whether it has reached the ears of every honorable senator, but it should be known, even at this late stage, that underlying the application for this survey, there are some very large mining interests - that this survey is to open up the country for boomster syndicates. I do not know whether that accounts for the inordinate anxiety to get this measure passed. Senator Walker was the first to suggest the mineral wealth of this howling desert - this place, where a wheelbarrow cannot be left out at night, because, before morning, it is lost in the drifting sand, and where a shovel, if allowed to lie, cannot be found at the end of five minutes. That is the actual experience related by gentlemen who had contracts for making dams which have never been filled with water, and which cost a good many of their namesakes. I remember Senator Walker saying that one of the objects this proposed survey would achieve would be the discovery of great mineral wealth. As that statement is by a gentleman of such a conservative disposition as Senator Walker, I can only suppose that he never devised the idea himself, but must have been, unconsciously perhaps, voicing what he has heard in the monetary world with which he is so closely connected. Had the matter rested there I should not have mentioned it, but we know what certain supporters of the measure in Western Australia are after. As soon as a survey peg is driven, and the surveyors move on, close at their heels will be the man, with the pick and the shovel and the dry-blower. There have been a great many dry-blowers here to-day on behalf of the railway, and I suppose we shall have a lot more before breakfast-time to-morrow morning. We are asked to take money out of the pockets of the people in the interests of a single State, and in the interests of mining speculators. As, for the South Australian people, they are of opinion that if a transcontinental line were built, their extensive docks, provided at an expenditure of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, will be rendered useless, owing to the mail steamers' stopping at Fremantle - that interesting little hole in which a vessel cannot lie with any degree of safety, even at her moorings. There has actually been erected a paling fence to ward off the gales from the Indian Ocean, and when I first saw that fence, I wondered what sort of creepers it was proposed to grow over it. I was informed that it was intended, not to brighten the melancholy aspect of the beaten rocks, driven sand, and shallow waters', but to keep vessels from being blown from their moorings. I understand that a little time before that fence was erected a Yankee captain, on being asked to give a description of Fremantle, answered, ." It is a jetty in the Indian Ocean sheltered by the Cape of Good Hope." That is the interesting spot which the Western Australian Government wish to make the point of the arrival and departure of all our great lines of steamers.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7-45 p.m.







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