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Thursday, 30 November 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - Before I reply to the remarks of honorable senators, I wish to read the letter fromthe Acting Premier of Victoria, which was omitted from the tabled correspondence with the Premiers. I find that no further letter has been received from the Premier of South Australia. But on the 6thof October last this letter was received by the Prime Minister from Mr. W. A. Watt, Acting Premier of Victoria : -

Adverting to previous correspondence on the subject of the uniformity of the railway gauges in Australia, I have now the honour to inform you that this Government is of opinion that no Satisfactory solution of this question can be obtained without a consultation between the responsible Ministers of the Commonwealth and the States.

2.   It is, therefore, desired that a conference of such Ministers should he held as early as practicable to consider and deal with the political, financial, and engineering problems which are involved.

3.   ThisGovernment further strongly urges that; pending such deliberation; the Commonwealth Government shouldtake the necessary steps to prevent a final decision being arrived at with respect to the gauge of the proposed transcontinental line intimately related as such subjects to the general question of gauge conversion, in which the States of Australia are vitally concerned.

I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that this gentleman proposed that a Conference of Ministers of the Commonwealth and of the States should be held to discuss and decide political, financial, and engineering problems, and that some honorable senators on the other side, who have been complaining of the want of information, are asking the Government to defer the consideration of this Bill in order that a Conference of politicians to deal with engineering problems may be held.

Senator Millen - We never asked for that.

Senator PEARCE - I know that as soon asI commence to deal with the objections they urged they will disown them.

Senator Millen - Will you tell us who asked you to adjourn the consideration of this Bill till the Premiers met?

Senator PEARCE -I also want to read some correspondence which has taken place with the Premier of Western Australia. On the 17th instant the Prime Minister sent this telegram to the Premier of Western Australia -

Bill for an Act called Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act1911 has received approval of House of Representatives. Now under consideration of Senate. Clause three of such Bill provides that before construction of railway can be commenced Act must be passed by Western Australian Parliament consenting and agreeing to grant such Crown lands as in the opinion of Minister necessary for purposes of construction, maintenance, and working of the railway. Shall be glad if you will have necessary Bill drafted for State legislation, with view to early submission.

On the same date the Prime Minister sent the following memorandum to the Premier of Western Australia -

I have the honour to inform you that a Bill (copyenclosed) for an Act called the " Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act1911 " has received the approval of the House of Representatives, and is now under the consideration of the Senate. You will observe that clause 3 of such Bill provides - " The construction of the railway shall not be commenced until the States of Western Australia and South Australia respectively have granted or agreed to grant, to the satisfaction of the Minister, such portions of the Crown lands of the State as are, in the opinion of the Minister, necessary for the purposes of the construction, maintenance, and working of the' railway."

2.   I shall be glad, therefore, if your Government will intimate its willingness to. grantto the Commonwealth any Crown lands as indicated in the clause quoted, and if the authority of the Parliament of your State is considered necessary, if you will take early steps to obtain it.

The first reply was received on 22nd November - .

Prime Minister, Melbourne. - Your telegram eighteenth, re Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.Suggested Bill drafted as early as possible and submitted to State Parliament now in session. (Signed) J. Scaddan, Premier.

The following telegram was received yesterday by the Prime Minister -

Prime Minister, Melbourne. - Transcontinental railway, re your wire eighteenth instant, this Government proposes to revive the West Australian Act No. 4 of 1903. I assume this will suffice. (Signed)J. Scaddan, Premier.

I am going to deal straight away with the point raised by Senator Sayers. Although thirsting for information which he challenged me to give when I rose to reply, Senator Sayers, knowing that I was the next speaker, immediately left the chamber. So much for his dying thirst for information ! The honorable senator pointed out that, in an estimate which he incorrectly said was supplied by Mr. Deane, but which was really the estimate of Mr. Moncrieff, the South Australian Railways Commissioner, the working expenses per train mile run were put down at 5s. Senator Sayers said that that was too low an estimate, and he gave that as an instance of the inaccuracy and unreliableness of the report from which he quoted. But if Senator Sayers will turn to the official Year-Book of the Commonwealth he will find that the cost per train mile run for the whole of the Commonwealth railways last year was 51.38 pence; that is, roughly, 4s. 3£d. per train mile, or 15 per cent, lower than the estimate in Mr. Moncrieff's calculation. So that Mr. Moncrieff has increased the cost 15 per cent., although the average given in the official Year-Book is the highest for the last ten years. Another point was made by another honorable senator during the course of the debate, as to the weight of the rails. An attack was made on the engineers, who were said to be unreliable and unworthy of credence, because they specified 70-lb. rails. I have here a paper, which has also been supplied to honorable senators, containing an estimate ordered to be printed on 28th November, 191 1. It shows the length of the various railways throughout Australia, their gauge, the weight of the rails, and the speed of trains. I notice that the honorable senator who thirsted for this information has also gone out.

Senator Givens - References might be made to the honorable senator's conduct in this chamber, if he wishes to be personal in that manner.

Senator PEARCE - When an honorable senator makes such remarks as were made on the point with which I am dealing, he must expect to get something back.

Senator Givens - The honorable sena- tor will get back more than he likes if he goes on like that.

Senator Millen - A man who looks for trouble is bound to get it.

Senator PEARCE - This return shows that on the railway from Serviceton to

Keith, 41 \ miles, on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, the weight of rails' is 61 lbs., rate of speed 40.82 miles per hour, and the express runs at the rate of 1 mile in 1.47 minutes.

Senator Vardon - All those rails are being gradually replaced.

Senator PEARCE - Of course; rails are being replaced from time to time on every railway in Australia. In time we shall replace the rails on the line with which we are dealing. From Keith to Coonalpyn, 40 J- miles, 61 -lb. rails, the train travels 43-7° miles per hour, and the express runs at the rate of a mile in 1.37 minutes. From Coonalpyn to Murray Bridge, 54 miles, 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, 61 -lb. rails, the train travels 40 miles per hour, and the express runs 1 mile in a minute and a half. From Mount Barker Junction to Mount Lofty, nf miles, 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, 61-lb. rails, the train runs 18.55 miles per hour, and the express travels 1 mile in 3.36 minutes. From Mount Lofty to Adelaide, 19J miles, 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, 61-lb. rails, the train runs 22J miles per hour, and the express travels 1 mile in 2.66 minutes.

Senator Vardon - The honorable senator might quote the case of some of the New South Wales lines, which now have 80-lb. rails.

Senator PEARCE - The point is that the argument was used that this line would be unsafe, and that here is a railway that carries some of the busiest traffic in Australia, over which express trains travel with the mails from Adelaide to Melbourne, and which runs through mountainous country. Yet it is provided with rails 9 lbs. lighter than are to be provided for this proposed railway, which will run over flat country with hardly a curve in it: Honorable senators opposite profess that they are quite willing', if the line is shown to be necessary for the purpose of defence, to vote for the Bill. If they had heard my speech in introducing this measure, they would have listened to a quotation which I read from Lord Kitchener's report on the subject. Some of them certainly heard Senator Ready's quotation from Major-General Bevan Edwards._ The honorable senator also quoted "a telling pasage from Major - General Hutton. But notwithstanding this, after saying that they were prepared to vote for the line if it were shown to be necessary for defence purposes, they brush aside all these authorities, and say that the line is not necessary for defence purposes. I invite Senator

Cameron to read the extracts to which I have referred. As a soldier, he will attach to them the importance which they deserve. 1 now wish to deal with Senator Keating, because he has taken up a most extraordinary attitude on this question. Senator Keating now wants a survey of an alternative route. He suddenly discovers that it is not satisfactory to have a survey of one route only. In July, 1907, Senator Keating was a. member of the Ministry which introduced the Railway Survey Bill. He sat alongside his colleague, Senator Best, who moved the second reading of the measure. Not only was he a member of the Ministry which introduced the Bill, but he was actually the Minister responsible for the Department that superintended the construction of the survey. On 10th February, 1908, after the Bill was passed, Senator Keating, under the authority of Parliament, issued instructions for the survey. A copy of those instructions appears in a parliamentary paper presented by command on 13th October, 1909. It is entitled Instructions to the EngineersinChief in connexion with the Trial Surveys, and is signed by Senator Keating as Minister. The document contains the following paragraph : -

Route. - (1) It would appear desirable that both routes, namely, that vid Tarcoola and that vid Gawler Ranges, be surveyed.

He held then the opinion which he voiced this afternoon -

Consequently, in your deliberations and recommendations, I shall be glad if you will consider both routes.

He was perfectly consistent so far. But after the engineers received his instructions, on 14th February, four days later, in answer to. his memorandum, the engineers, according to a paper ordered to be printed on 6th March, 1908, wrote as follows : -

With regard to the question of surveying the alternative routes vid Tarcoola and the Gawler Ranges and Fowler's Bay, we beg to point out that the sum of£20,000 respecting the expenditure of which we are asked to. deliberate is not sufficient to admit of a preliminary survey being made of more than one of these routes, as the cost 6f even an exploration over, say, 400 miles of the Gawler Ranges would amount to£1,200.

The significant thing about that is this : The Minister's memorandum was dated 10th February, and Senator Keating retained office until November of the same year. But, notwithstanding that he then said that a second alternative route was necessary, and notwithstandingthat he is prepared to vote against this Bill because he is not supplied with information about an alternative route, he took absolutely no steps as the Minister controlling the Department, to obtain a survey of an alternative route.

Senator Keating - Because this survey was not completed.

Senator PEARCE - Was Senator Keating waiting to have the one survey completed, and did he want to bring the survey parties back, and disband them, and then get another Bill through Parliament, involving waste of time?

Senator Keating - That was not necessary.

Senator PEARCE - If Senator Keating then, as he says now, believed that before this railway should be proceeded with an alternative route should be surveyed, he as the Minister responsible for the action to be taken by the Government ought to have come down to Parliament and told them what his opinion was. But he went to sleep on the matter, apparently. From February to November he continued to be Minister of Home Affairs, and he made no provision for an alternative route.

Senator Keating - We had not sufficient particulars as to the result of the first survey.

Senator PEARCE - Neither had the honorable senator any particulars when he said that it was necessary to have a survey of a second route.

Senator Keating - The engineers reported that for that purpose extra money would be required. We could not give them that money without the authority of Parliament.

Senator PEARCE - Senator Keating has had sufficient Ministerial experience to know that there was an easy way out of that difficulty. He had the preparation of his Department's Estimates, and all he had to do was to put a sum of money on those Estimates for the purpose of a second survey. If Parliament had passed that sum, he could have carried out the survey. That is the answer. Before I come to the criticisms of Senator Vardon, I want to deal with a piece of misrepresentation that has originated outside the Senate, but which evidently has affected some honorable senators inside; because one or two honorable senators have practically repeated what appeared in the press. I do not blame them for that, if they had no means of checking what was published.But that it was a piece of misrepresentation will be seen immediately. The Age of 29th November published the following paragraph as regards the attitude of South Australia: -

So disgusted is the Premier of South Australia with the Federal Government's adoption of a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge for the trans-Australian railway that he. has said that his Government will take no further action to assist in the construction of the line.

Mark these words -

Hehas declared also that the Commonwealth will have to pay the cost of converting the 5 ft. 3 in. railway between Port Augusta and Adelaide.

SenatorW. Russell, reading his South Australian newspapers, came across the following little paragraph, relating to exactly the same circumstance, as reported in the Ade- laide press on the previous day.

Senator McColl - I think the Argus published the same news.

Senator PEARCE - The Argus published it correctly. This is the paragraph that appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 28th November -

When asked on Monday whether the Government intended to press their claim that the Western Australian railway should be constructed on the 5- ft. 3-in. gauge the Premier (Hon. J. Verran) said no further action could be taken in the matter of gauge, as the Federal Government had definitely decided upon 4 ft. 8½ in. The South Australian Government were now awaiting the Premiers' Conference, when an attempt would be made to induce the Commonwealth Government to meet the expense of altering the gauges where necessary in the different States.

That is quite a different question. It has nothing at all to do with the construction of the proposed line. Here is the Argus report of the matter -

The Premier (Mr. Verran) in reply to a question, said that he had heard nothing of any hitch in respect to the Western Australian railway. South Australia had given all the necessary land, but had refused to give half-a-mile on each side to enable the Federal Government to build townships. He did not think that the Federal Parliament would alter the gauge, but if the Inter-State lines had to be converted the Commonwealth Government would meet half of the cost.

Senator Millen - Is the statement that South Australia has given the necessary land, correct?

Senator PEARCE - I do not think it is correct. I think that what Mr. Verran meant was that South Australia is prepared to give the land. I make these quotations for the purpose of showing that an attempt has been made at gross misrepresent ration for the purpose of affecting the result of this debate. If honorable senators could be led to believe that the South Australian

Government had refused to give the Commonwealth any land, that circumstance would have an important hearing upon the division on this Bill. Senator Vardon attempted to make considerable capital out of the fact that the other States had been connected by railway, so far as their trunk lines are concerned, at their own expense. That is quite true. But I would point out that those lines were constructed prior to Federation. If they had not been; the States would probably have put for-, ward a claim that the Commonwealth should pay for them. Without railway connexion of State with State, we get isolation. Westeni Australia and Tasmania are isolated iri a way that no other States in the Commonwealth are isolated, because all the other States have railway communication with each other. Therefore, Federation in the case of Western Australia and Tasmania cannot be as real as it is in the case of the other States. I was rather astonished to hear Senator Vardon's prophecy that np European nation would come to Australia. When we see a European nation prepared to spend£2, 500,000 per day to maintain a war against a country for the purpose of grabbing part of the African desert, and of gaining control over a people who can be controlled only at the point of the bayonet - when we see a nation loaded with debt-

Senator Millen - Did the Minister say that a European nation was spending £2,500,000 per day upon a war?

Senator PEARCE - That is the statement which was made in the press.

Senator Millen - And it was immediately denied.

Senator PEARCE - In view of these circumstances, is it incredible that a Euro-; pean nation would attempt to capture and. hold a portion of Australia, especially if it be sparsely populated ? It is a big temptation to other nations to see the western portion of this continent isolated from theeastern portion, so far ns railway communication is concerned. During the course of this debate we have heard a good deal of Mr. Murray, who is a vigorous advocate of the Gawler Range route. SenatorVardon, in championing him-

Senator Vardon - I merely read two or three sentences from his letter.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator attached considerable importance to his statements. As a matter of fact, although nosurvey was made of the Gawler Range route, the Engineers-in-Chief did take it into consideration. Mr. Deane, in a summaryof their report, says -

With regard to the advisability of substituting the Cawler Range route for the approved one, I beg to call the attention of the Minister to the following extract from the report of the Engineers-in-Chief of nth October,1911: -

The prospects of the country to be served by the Tarcoola route as to pastoral and mineral advantages were incomparably in excess of those to be expected from the Gawler Range route.

The Acting Surveyor-General, South Australia, in a minute to the Hon. the Commissioner for Crown Lands, dated 5th February, 1908, in recommending a route somewhat north of the proposed one, held out the prospect of tapping an area of from 117,000 to 120,000 square miles of pastoral country; and the Government Geologist and the Chief Inspector of Mines pointed out, in minutes of the 7th and 8th February, 1908, the prospects of the gold mines and copper mines in the districts traversed. With regard to the Gawler Range route it is to be observed that, while distance might be saved and economies effected by adopting it, the countries served would by no means be so extensive, and it has, moreover, already theadvantage, as far as the coast strip is concerned, of lines of steamers touching at various ports of call ; and as regards the area adjacent to the Gawler Range, we are informed that the South Australian Government have a well thought out project for extending to Port Lincoln-Yeelanna railway in two directions so as to tap it, and these 'important lines are likely to be authorized. This being the case, it may be concluded that any further consideration of the Gawler Range route is quite unnecessary.

The above goes to show the reasons why this route was previously rejected, and it is scarcely necessary for me to point out that any wheat that is produced along that route would, undoubtedly, be carried to the nearest port, and would not go to the railway at all, as the steamer freight would be so much cheaper than any rate that could be charged for carriage by the railway. On the other hand, it may be expected that there would be a considerable amount of revenue owing to local traffic and produce from the country between Port Augusta and the sand hills, which are encountered 320 miles back.

The latest report which I have received from the Tarcoola mines is a favorable one. There is also the Glenloth district, which has been reported to be extremely promising. Stock returns show that there are now 300,000 sheep grazing upon the whole district as well as 35,000 hear) of cattle and horses. Some of the country, like the tablelands country, is stated to be of a high fattening value. Were the railway made, a very great development is bound to take place in this country, and would, undoubtedly, be found capable of carrying a very much larger quantity of stock.

In order to show that that is not mere assertion on Mr. Deane's part, I have here an official map issued by the Crown Lands Department of South Australia showing the distribution of that stock. The squares through which the proposed railway will pass are numbered 767 and 767a and a reference to the footnote attached to the map shows that in districts 767 there are 4,657 cattle, 888 horses, and 157,735 sheep; in district 767a there are 6,248 cattle, 868 horses, and 32,491 sheep; whilst in district 768 there are 15,901 cattle, 2,962 horses, and 36,411 sheep.

Senator Millen - Between Tarcoola and Spencer's Gulf.

Senator PEARCE - No.

Senator Millen - Mr. Deane said that there were no stock west of Tarcoola.

Senator PEARCE - He did not. The paper which was read by the honorable senator was to the effect that the country east of Kalgoorlie was unoccupied.

Senator Millen - Read Mr. Deane's description, and the Minister will find that he says thatfrom 12 to 13 miles east of Tarcoola to Port Augusta the country is occupied.

Senator PEARCE - All this stock is located west of Spencer's Gulf, towards the Western Australian boundary. The honorable member's statement was that the sheep were at the head of Spencer's Gulf.

Senator Millen - It was not. Let the Minister produce the Hansard report tomorrow, and he will see that he is wrong. He is wilfully misrepresenting me.

Senator PEARCE - Senators Givens and McColl commented strongly on the fact that this country has not been occupied. The former went so far as to say that the fact that it has not been occupied proves that it is not suitable for occupation. Does Senator Givens know that the land lying almost immediately to the south of Lake Gardiner was absolutely unoccupied when I left South Australia in 1892, and that in the State schools of South Australia I was taught that that country was desert, and unfit for occupation. Yet to-day South Australia is running a line of railway to branch in two directions for a distance of 150 miles from Port Lincoln into the heart of that country, and hundreds of acres of it are being taken up for agricultural purposes.

Senator Vardon - None of that country would be fit for agriculture without phosphates.

Senator PEARCE - I know that. I shall presently prove from a book which was written by Senator McColl that the country through which the proposed transcontinental railway will pass, will one day be settled by an agricultural population, otherwise his theories are all moonshine.

Senator McColl - My theories are other people's practice.

Senator PEARCE - That is even more valuable than are the honorable senator's theories. Senator Givens seemed quite annoyed when he discovered last evening that the Esperance Bay railway was going to be built by the Government of Western Australia. It was one of the sheet-anchors of his opposition to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill that the Esperance Bay line would not be constructed by that State . He was proceeding to trot out the old argument, when he discovered that the Government of Western Australia have actually built half of that line, and are prepared to construct the other half. Then, he immediately seized upon the construction of that line as an argument in opposition to the building of the proposed transcontinental line. In doing so he evidenced an ingenuity of which the Senate has reason to be proud, and we all give him great credit for the facile way in which he got himself out of the difficulty.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8 p.m.

SenatorPEARCE. - I wish to say a few words now in reply to Senator Millen. I am sorry the honorable senator is not present, but I presume he will come in later. He occupies a very peculiar position on this Bill. 1 have here a volume of Hansard for 1909, and at page 268 I find the policy of the famous Fusion Government, of which Senator Millen was the representative in this Chamber, set out. I quote this paragraph from that statement of policy -

In addition to the ample provision required for Defence purposes and for the industrial projects already noticed, the outlay on the Federal Capital Site, the taking over of Ocean Lighthouses by the Commonwealth, and the construction, when authorized, of the railway line to Western Australia, have to be borne in mind.

It has to be remembered that that statement of policy by the Government of which Senator Millen was a member was published after the survey of this line had been made. It may be said that this is a somewhat indefinite statement. When it appeared in the public press, Western Australian senators and members of another place attacked the Fusion Government in Western Australia, and complained that this was a somewhat indefinite statement. But Sir John Forrest, the Treasurer of that Government, in defending them against our attacks in Western Australia, said that that statement meant that the Fusion Government were absolutely pledged to the early construction of the line. So that, what ever construction honorable senators may put upon the statement, that is the meaning which Sir John Forrest said the . Government intended those words to bear. Now, nearly two years later, after the data collected by the survey have been analyzed and worked up by a competent staff, we have Senator Millen saying that the proper course has not been taken in regard to this line. He says, first of all, that we should get the sanction for inquiry. He admits that this was done, to a limited extent, by the passing of the Bill for the survey. Then he says that we ought to refer the material collected to a body, such as the Public Works Committee of New South Wales. I believe that the Public Works Committee of New South Wales have done very good work. I do not know in detail the nature of the work they do, but I know that the Committee is composed of politicians, and not of engineers. They inquire into the advisability of the construction of a line, and it is not, I believe, any part, of their function to work up the details collected by a survey party to enable contracts to be let for construction. I think I am safe in saying, and I hope that New South Wales senators will correct me if I am wrong, that an inquiry by the Public Works Committee of New South Wales precedes the survey of a railway. First of all, representations are made to the Government that a certain railway should be constructed, the Government bring forward a resolution to refer the project to the Public Works Committee, and, if that Committee sanction the construction of the line, then the survey is proceeded with, and the data collected by the survey are worked up to enable the expenditure of the money. What has been done in this case that Senator Millen should complain, or should alter the attitude which he and the Government of which he was a member took up when they published the policy statement from which I have quoted ?

Senator Millen - There has been no alteration at all.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator now says, " I am not going to permit you to pass this Bill. I want more inquiry. ' '

Senator Millen - I did not say so.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator's action in moving an amendment for further inquiry shows that that is the attitude he now takes up. If his amendment be carried, it will have the effect of postponing the Bill. This Parliament, bypassing an Act, practically said, " We shall investigate this work." It voted money for a survey, and subsequently voted more money for the payment of an expert staff to collate the material collected by the survey.

Senator Millen - What Government did that?

Senator PEARCE - Several Governments.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator spoke of it as the Government of whichI was a member.

Senator PEARCE - Idid not say anything of the kind. I said that the Government of which the honorable senator was a member pledged themselves to the construction of the railway.

Senator Givens - No; to the survey.

Senator PEARCE - No; the survey was completed before the Fusion Government took office. What has been done in connexion with this Bill ? The proposal was referred to a Committee, not of politicians, but of railway experts - the five Engineers-in-Chief of the mainland States of Australia. These men came to the consideration of the question with a great advantage over the politician. A politician cannot rid himself of his party associations. If the Government he supports is committed to a Bill he feels himself, to some extent, bound to back them up, right or wrong.

Senator Millen - Right or wrong ? The honorable senator must be thinking of his own party when he says that.

Senator PEARCE - I say that a politician will feel that, if there is any doubt about a matter, he should give the Government of which he is a supporter the benefit of that doubt. Senator Millen knows well that that feeling is associated with party government. The material collected by the survey of this route was given to a Committee of independent experts - men who know all about railway construction from A to Z ; men who have had to construct railways, who every day are dealing with these very questions, and have been specially trained and educated to deal with them. These men considered the material, analyzed and weighed every bit of it, and then presented a joint report, signed by every one of them. On that report the present Government decided to bring forward this Bill to authorize the construction df the railway, and, in order that Parliament might be seised of every detail, the Government did not stop at that. They made provisipn by a vote of£5,000 for the appointment of a Consulting Railway

Engineer in the person of Mr. Henry Deane, who is one of the best in the Commonwealth. No one will say nay to that. He was given freedom to choose his own staff, and the material collected by a prosper survey, and not a flying survey, was placed in his hands, and on that he has prepared plans, specifications, and quanttities. He makes the statement that he is prepared now to supply the necessary plans, specifications, and quantities to enable any one to tender for the work.

Senator Vardon - Were the EngineersinChief unanimous in their recommendation ?

Senator PEARCE - Yes, they were.

Senator Vardon - On the gauge?

Senator PEARCE - No, . not on the gauge; but they were unanimous as to the cost of construction and various other items they put forward.They signed a unanimous report, but Mr. Moncrieff pointed out that he dissented from the recommendation as to the gauge, although the dissent is not shown in the main r.eport. I am pointing out, however, that this is an . immensely more reliable report than a report by a committee of non-experts could possibly be. Whilst Senator Millen puts forward as a justification for his amendment the statement that this should be referred to a committee for report, he refuses to accept the report of experts.

Senator Millen - I did not do anything of the kind. I was contrasting the ample means of inquiry provided elsewhere with the scanty means the Government have adopted in this case.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator in his attack on the Bill proceeded first of all to question the credibility of the report of Mr. Deane. In order to do so he seized upon one or two paragraphs in which Mr. Deane left the narrow path of the railway expert, and ventured to express opinions on matters somewhat outside direct railway questions. We may differ in opinion as to whether Mr. Deane was wise in doing so, and every member of the Senate is free to refuse to accept his conclusions on those subjects. ButI say that no matter how honorable senators, may question his testimony on those points which are outside the scope of engineering questions, they cannot affect the value of Mr. Deane's report on the questions affecting railway construction in any way at all. Honorable senators should bear in mind that the Government have never asked, and do not ask, that the Senate shall make up its mind on Mr. Deane's opinions upon any questions other than those of actual railway construction.

Senator Sayers - If the line costs £1,000,000 more than is estimated, what remedy shall we have?

Senator PEARCE - It will not cost £1,000,000 more than is estimated. On that pointI am prepared to ask the Senate to prefer Mr. Deane's opinion to that of Senator Sayers. We have had a strange spectacle presented by honorable senators on the other side.' They have refused to accept the joint report of five of the EngineersinChief of the States of Australia, and have practically told the Governments of those States that they do not value the reports of the Engineers-in-Chief of their railway works. But at the same time, if any casual person writes a letter to a newspaper, anonymously or otherwise, they trot the letter out here and set it up against the reports of these responsible and expert officials. We have had Senator McColl quoting newspaper writers, and we have had Senator Sayers trotting out a Mr. Murray.' I do not know whether he is a railway expert. I have heard that he is a mining prospector. By the way, it is singular that, while Senator Sayers has referred to Tarcoola as a worthless mining field, this mining prospector, who appears to have been living there for years, makes a sporting offer to take a party at his own expense over the whole of the route of this railway. He can scarcely be considered a pauper if he is prepared to do that.

Senator Sayers - He is not a miner at all. We were told last night that he is a grazier.

Senator PEARCE - I do not know what he is. I say that Senator Millen occupies a most inconsistent position on this Bill. Having been a member of a Government who were prepared to construct this line, he is to-day the forger of a weapon destined to wreck it.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable member say that if my amendment were carried it would wreck the Bill ?

Senator PEARCE - Yes, undoubtedly; and in my opinion those who are support-, ing it are hoping that that will be the result.

Senator Millen - Why will the amendmentwreck the Bill, if it is carried ?

Senator PEARCE - Because the honorable senator must be aware that there will then be no chance to go on with it this session.

Senator Millen - There might be another session. The honorable senator means to say that the States concerned will not concede the fair terms we ask. That is the only way by which the proposal could be killed.

Senator PEARCE - If Senator Millen has any doubt as to what the effect of his amendment would be if it were carried, I venture to say that those who are in opposition to the Bill are all ranged behind him supporting the amendment. How is it that every opponent of the Bill is supporting his amendment?

Senator Millen - Because it is a reasonable amendment.

Senator PEARCE - It is supported, not merely by those who want more information, but also by honorable senators like Senator Stewart and Senator Givens, who honestly say thatthey will not vote for the Bill under any consideration.

Senator Stewart - I want more information.

Senator PEARCE - These honorable senators do not makeany specious pretext about wanting more information. They state, plainly and bluntly, that South Australia and Western Australia should build the railway, and that they have no right to ask the Commonwealth to do so. That is an honest and straightforward way of dealing with the proposal, but all those who want to oppose the Bill support the amendment. I come now to Senator McColl, who is in the unfortunate position of having written a book. We all remember the old saying, " Oh that mine enemy would write a book." I hold in my hand the official rain map of South Australia for 1910, issued by Mr. H. A. Hunt, Commonwealth Meteorologist. Honorable senators will notice that, . wherever we are able to take records, we know the rainfall in those localities.

Senator Millen - 1910 was a good year.

Senator PEARCE - Certainly. At Tarcoola, where Mr. Murray - Senator Sayers expert - stated that there is no rainfall,the rainfall in 1910 was inches.

Senator Millen -May I ask Senator Pearce if he is quoting these figures to disprove Mr Deane's, statement that the average. rainfall is 7 inches?

Senator PEARCE - I shall tell the honorable senator presently why I am quoting the figures. In 1910, the rainfall along the highest point of the Bight ranged from 786 points at Eucla to 890 points - that is nearly 9 inches - at Nullarbor Station, and 12 inches at Fowler Bay.

Senator Millen - That is in a good year right along the coast.

Senator PEARCE - I do not intend to miss any of these little points. In 1910, the rainfall at Tarcoola was 473 points, that is, 4.73 inches above the rainfall in the previous year.

Senator Millen - What would that make the rainfall in the previous year?

Senator PEARCE - Eight inches, which bears out Mr. Deane's statement.

Senator Millen - He gives the average as 7 inches.

Senator PEARCE - The rainfall at Nullarbor Station - the highest point of the Bight - was 57 points below the registration for the previous year ; while the rainfall at Eucla was 233 points below the registration for the previous year. That shows that, in 1909, Eucla had a rainfall of nearly 10 inches, and that the other places had a rainfall of over 9 inches.It also shows that Tarcoola had, in 1909, a rainfall of over 8 inches, and in 1910, a rainfall of 12 inches. These two points cover the country lying between Tarcoola and the western boundary.

Senator Vardon - That is the rainfall on the coast.

Senator PEARCE - Tarcoola is not on the coast. If the rainfall of 8 inches extends to Tarcoola, which must be at least 150 miles from the coast, it is reasonable to assume that it covers the whole area of that line running west from Tarcoola, which is only 60 miles from the coast. If honorable senators will refer to the official rain map of Western Australia, they willobserve a spot lying to the east of Norseman, and getting well up towards the line east of Kalgoorlie. In that spot, last year the rainfall was 10 inches.

Senator Lynch - Is that Balladonia?

Senator PEARCE - No; this spot is north of Balladonia.

Senator Millen - Would it not be of more use if you gave us the average?

Senator PEARCE - I will tell the honorable senator why I cannot give the average. Only within the last few years has there been any settlement in that particular part ; but down at Balladonia, there has been settlement fora large number of years. Dempster Brothers have a station there; and, according to their rain-gauge, the average rainfall is 12 inches. On the other hand, at Kalgoorlie, the rainfall for 1910 was 9 inches. Coming along the coast, we find that from Eucla, right away down to Israelite Bay, the rainfall last year averaged 9 inches. At Israelite Bay, which is still a long distance from Albany, the rainfall was11½ inches. The point I want to make is that there is a rainfall. The assumption from these figures - and that is where it will be interesting to Senator McColl- is that there was a rainfall of 8 inches in the area through which the proposed railway will pass. I do not think that that is an extreme statement to make, in the light of these figures. Is there any doubt about the quality of the soil ? I have been 90 miles east of Kalgoorlie, and say that, excluding the belts of mineral country, there is no better soil to be found in the whole of Australia than is to be found in the eastern gold-fields country.

Senator Millen - For what?

Senator PEARCE - It is good red loam soil ; and if the honorable senator is a judge of soil and saw this country, I am sure that he would confirm my statement. I have been 90 miles east of Kalgoorlie, and I have met prospectors who have been out hundreds of miles, and they have told me that this quality of soil extends to the Nullarbor Plain, except, of course, where it is intersected by a mineral belt. I come now to Senator McColl 's statement of his investigation of dry farming. In 1909 the Senate was presented with a paper on dry farming, being " a report by Senator J. H. McColl of proceedings at Third TransMissouri Dry Farming Congress, Cheyenne, Wyoming, February, 1909, and further investigations in America." Referring to his arrival, he says, on page 1 - "What is Dry Farming?" I inquired. "Cultivation' under low rainfall,'" was the reply. On asking where I could get particulars, I was referred to the Colorado Realty Association, Denver, where I saw sheaves of various grains of excellent quality, said to have been grown under a 12-inch rainfall.

Senator Lynch - That is too much to wheat-growing.

Senator PEARCE - That is what Senator McColl learned when he commenced his peregrinations. On page 6 of his report he starts a chapter on the arid States and their rainfall -

These States are California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico,

Arizona, and the rainfall figures given are those issued by the U.S.A. Department of Agriculture.

In California the rainfall varies from 15.6 inches at Los Angeles, to 2.5 inches in Salton, while San Diego and San Jose have 9.4 inches and 14.8 inches respectively.

This is an important point, and this is where I invite the notice of my fellow Australians to the difference between the conditions in the United, States of America and our conditions -

Of this, over one-half falls in the winter months, a fourth in the spring ; the balance spreads over summer and fall, but little in the summer.

Senator Millen - One-naif of 14 inches, though.

Senator PEARCE - One-half of 14 inches is 7 inches, and one-half of 9 inches is 4J inches. The peculiar feature of the Western Australian rainfall is that, along the south-western portion of the State, the whole rainfall practically comes in three or four months. At Perth, I have known not a day to pass without rain in June, July, and August. I have known a stretch of four to five months in summer without a solitary drop of rain.

Senator Millen - Do you know how many months it takes to mature wheat?

Senator PEARCE - I do. In Siberia I saw wheat which matured in three months.

Senator Millen - Not the kinds of wheat -which we grow here.

Senator PEARCE - No. But the honorable senator, if he knows anything about the subject, knows that' there are wheats and wheats. In this report, Senator McColl shows the difference. He says -

In Oregon the fall is 15.4 inches and 14.5 inches, the half falling in winter. In Washington State the fall is 8.3 inches at Spokane, and 8.9 inches at Yakima, of which the heaviest fall is in winter. In Nevada and Idaho the fall is from 12.9 inches to 7.3 inches, about half in winter and one-fourth in spring. In Utah it runs from 15.8 inches in Salt Lake City to 7.5 inches in Moab country, one-third in spring and one-third in winter. In Montana the fall is 16.4 inches to 13.6 inches, evenly distributed. In ' Wyoming over one-half is in spring and summer, and in Colorado it is the same, the fall running from 14.6 inches to 7.7 inches. In Nebraska two-thirds of the fall of 14. q inches is in spring and summer. Kansas, with 19.6 inches, has two-thirds in spring and summer. New Mexico, with 14.2 inches to 9.4 inches, has about one-half in summer, the balance over the rest of the year. Arizona, with 15.6 inches at Prescott, and 2.7 inches at Yuma, has one-third to one-half in summer, and but one-fourth in winter.

If these farmers get that rainfall, as Senator McColl seems to indicate, spread over a longer period, it is not of as much value as a rainfall of 8 inches in winter over the country to be traversed by the proposed railway. What art the results? On page 10 of his report, Senator McColl says -

My inquiries were made about Fresno and Tulare, and there they never had over 13 inches per annum. Mr. J. L. Good, of Clovis, near Fresno, has been farming twenty-three years, and was formerly managing for Mr. F. Tarpey, a large land-owner, but for the past seven years had been working his own farm of 2,800 acres at Clovis. He took off the crop in July or August, and as soon as the condition of the ground would permit he ploughed, getting as deep as he could, from 6 to 8 inches. After the weeds sprouted, say, in April, he ploughed again, and kept a clean surface on the land. He used a Stockton Gang plough, five shares in each, the draught being ten horses. His winter sowing was done in September and October, and the spring sowing in December and January. He cropped only once in two years, leaving a summer fallow, and seeded 60 lbs. of barley and 5.5 lbs. of wheat to the acre.. He had used the White Australia wheat for the past seven years, and had never failed to get a . crop. The rainfall had been from 10 to r» inches, never over the latter. The principal rains fell in December. January, and February. The average of the farms round him was 16 bushels, but he got from 20 to 30 bushels. He rotated wheat and barley. He had not us«d manures.

Dealing with the case of Mr. Bearss, another dry farmer, Senator McColl says -

The rain for the year was but 7.40 inches, but the soil was in condition to receive and hold it.

They did not get as much rain as fell at Tarcoola in 1910, but " the soil was in a condition to receive and hold it," because, as the honorable senator points out, it had been cultivated under a system of dry farming -

In the critical month of March but 0.6 points fell-

That is when the wheat was germinating - and yet the yields were excellent. None of the trial plots yielded less than twenty bushels of wheat.

That is with a rainfall of 7 inches. Senator McColl went to the United States of America and saw this done; but he is not prepared to get up here and say, " I am willing to open up this vast province, because my experience in the United States of America proved to me that, by the system of dry farming, I can grow wheat all over that country." Why is he not- willing to apply the lesson which he learned in the United States of America?

Senator McColl - I did not say that it could not be done there. I made no reference to that matter.

Senator PEARCE - If the honorable senator's book means anything, it means that it can be done. If he saw it done in the United States of America, and knows that the soil of this country is good, and sees from these statistics that it has a rainfall of 8 inches, why does he refuse to open up this province to Australia ? I come now to another case. It may be said that this Was written about wheat-growing, but that everybody cannot grow wheat. Senator McColl was not content with wheat. Dealing with Texas, he says that the rainfall varies from 9 inches to over 40 inches, and he gives an instance of a man 20 miles north of El Paso, on the border of Texas and New Mexico, who, by dry farming, raised 2 acres of water melons averaging from 20 to 30 lbs. weight, and yielding $100 per acre. It positively makes one's mouth water!

His milo maize, Caffir corn, sorghum, Mexican brown beans, black-eyed peas,' onions, pumpkins, anr! other crops were ns successful as his melons, and he did this on 8 inches of rain.

I am surprised that Senator . McColl, after writing this, should vote against the proposed railway. It is really astonishing ! ' .

Senator Millen - Growing those crops on 8 inches of rain dees not mean 8 inches per annum. It means 8 inches while the crops are growing.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator cannot shuffle out of it in that manner. Senator McColl was' too exact for such little tarradiddles to dispose of his evidence. He started by giving the rainfall of the State of Texas, and then he gave instances of places within the State where these crops were grown. Here are some of his conclusions -

We know that the low rainfall country is rich in the elements required for plant life.

That is a truism known to every one who has studied the chemical composition of soils.

Let an inch or two of rain fall on the desertlooking, land, and like magic it will become covered with the most luxuriant growth of the finest fattening properties for stock. This country has to be settled and made productive.

What are the lessons of the Dry Farming Convention that we may take to guide and assist us in this stupendous task.? We know that with ian average rainfall of ro inches, and even less, men can hold on and live. But before we have to rely on the 10-in. areas we have over [,000,000 square miles, or 640,000,000 acres, under a rainfall from io to 20 inches.

Senator Millen - Senator McColl there summarizes, the belief that 10 inches is- the minimum rainfall with which you can dry,farm successfully.

Senator McColl - I stand by everything that I wrote iri that report. But those people grow one crop in two years. They save two years rainfall for the one crop. I am very much obliged to the Minister for quoting from the report.

Senator PEARCE - I am very glad that I read it; it is very informative. Assuming that these people do grow one crop in two years, that simply means that they allow one paddock to lie idle while they are cultivating another. That merely involves giving farmers a larger area than they would have in other parts of the country. It does not mean that every crop is to be a failure one year, or that there is to be no crop at all one year, and that successful crops are to be obtained in the next. It means that they practise rotation of crops. Where is Senator Stewart, who dubbed the whole of this 1,200- miles of country "howling desert," and in the same breath cried, ." We want more people in Australia-"? Is not that a magnificent way of attracting people to Australia - to send it forth to the world that one-half of Australia is a wilderness ? Because, remember, this is one-half of Australia, for this continent is only 2,400 miles across; Publish the news to the world that one-half of Australia is desert, and in the same breath cry, " Let us have more people for this desert "I

Senator Millen - Would the honorable senator send out and invite people to farm land there for wheat?

Senator PEARCE - Yes, 1 would; and let me tell the honorable senator this : The Western Australian Government is proposing to build a railway from Norseman to Esperance, not merely to open up mineral areas, but to open up rich agricultural land there. There are people today who are taking up that land. There are people down below Norseman who are actually reaping good crops.

Senator Millen - With a 12-inch rainfall! '

Senator PEARCE - No, with a 10-inch rainfall. ' The little coloured ring on the map which I hold in my hand shows where land is being taken up to-day.

Senator Millen - There is. a mighty difference between 8 inches of rain and 1.0.

Senator PEARCE - But Senator McColl showed that wheat can 'be grown with,. a. rainfall of 8 inches. \

Senator Millen - No ; 8 inches in the growing period.

Senator PEARCE - Perhaps Senator Millen will prepare a revised edition of Senator McColl's report on dry farming. Does he mean the Senate to believe that Senator McColl went to America, made all these investigations, and wrote this voluminous report, for the purpose of telling Australians that you. can. grow wheat with a10-inch rainfall?' Senator W. Russell could have told him that before hewent away, for that: honorable senator has grown many a bushel of wheat with a 10-inch rainfall, years and years ago. I was brought up in the northern areas of South Australia, where the farmers considered themselves lucky if they got 10 inches of rain. We did not need a report on dry-farming to tell us that that could be done. We knew it. What Senator McColl wanted to show, however, and what he proved, was, that with a 10-inch rainfall under dry farming you can produce far better results than under the old system; and that even with an 8-inch rainfall you can produce 20 bushels of wheat to the acre. An attack has been made by Senator Millen and others on the water-supply report. Not', I challenge honorable senators opposite to dispute, the facts contained in this report.

Senator Millen -i do not; I accept them.

Senator PEARCE - Senator Sayers did not accept them. He quoted Mr. G. W. Murray as saying thatthe bores put down on the Nullarbor Plain had all bottomed without getting water ; and he brought that forward as an argument to prove the waterless condition 'of the country to be traversed by this line. Now, as a matter of fact, what was done was this: The Western Australian Government sent' out a trial boring party who only put down bores at intervals of a few hundred miles. They did not put clown bores to supply water, but to find whether water was there. And they did get the water. It rose 400 and 500 feet in the bores, and in one case it rose within 100 feet of the surface. Scientists to-day are able to test bore pressures, to analyze the quality of water, and to tell forwhat purposes it can beused. The experts give in these reports the flow that could be obtained, and they also give the fact that the water from two of the bores was fit for human consumption, which means that it was fit for boiler purposes also. In one case it was slightly brackish, but in all cases they declared it to be fit for boiler purposes.

Senator Vardon - Are the Government going to depend on those bores for a. water supply ?

Senator PEARCE - Certainly not. They were put down to determine whether the water was there. It is there, and Senator Vardon knows how it can be obtained.

Senator Vardon - I think I read of a proposal for piping water hundreds of miles.

Senator PEARCE - I am not saying that there is water all alongthe route of the railway. There is an area of some hundred miles - I forget the exact distance - where there appears to be no water. We shall have to supply water in that area from the bores. But there is no insuperable difficulty about that. That is no reason why this railway should not be built. Even if the line went through a desert, that is no reason why it should not be built. The most profitable railways in Australia run through unoccupied country for miles. The line from Petersburg to Broken Hill for years ran through unoccupied country, but it was the best paying line South Australia had. Why ? Because there was something at the end of it. It was never built for what could be got along the route. The most payable line we had in Western Australia for many years was that from Perth to Kalgoorlie, and in its most payable daysthere was not a settler east of Northam. Yet to-day there are settlers 150 miles east of Northam. The railway in the days to which I refer was actually paying better than it is paying now. To-day you have a population of 300,000 people on the one side. They are - I make this statement advisedly, but not boastfully - the wealthiest people in Australia, the people who travel most of any in Australia. You have these people on the one side, and on the other you have all the rest of the population of Australia. But honorable senators opposite say that those people will not travel along the railway - that they are not going to use it. I. have told the Senate before that when I travelled on the transSiberian line I talked with people who came from the south of China, and who, although they have magnificent Pacific and Oriental Company steamers to take them to Europe if they like, via India and the Suez Canal, nevertheless prefer to go overland. They used to; go by sea;, to-day they do not. They go on a long railway journey through China, through Manchuria, over the trans-Siberian line. They travel - how long do you think? Ten whole days right across the Continent. It is a far more costly trip than by steamer. Yet they prefer it. There is only one other point with which I wish to deal. Various railway experts on the opposite side have spoken about the cost of construction. I shall quote from Mr. Knibbs'Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth, page 713. Here we have instanced the railway from Parkes to Condobolin, 62$ miles, which cost .£2,079 per mile. The line was opened in 1898. The railway from Dubbo to Coonamble, 95 7-8th miles, cost ,£2.463 per mile.

Senator Sayers - Surely the Minister does not expect to build the proposed railway at the same price?

Senator PEARCE - We are not estimating the same price. We are allowing £3,000 a mile.

Senator Sayers - :It will cost more.

Senator PEARCE - I come to Victoria. The line from Birchip to Cronomby, 26J miles, cost £1,548 per mile. The line from Rupanyup to Marnoo, 15 i-3rd miles, cost £1)787 per mile. The railway from Tailem Bend to Pinaroo, South Australia, 86^ miles, cost £1,470 per mile. Those instances dispose of the statement that this line is excessively costly. In any case, that point has been well disposed of by the six experts, who had before them all the necessary information about ballast, about the supply of timber, about water supply, and so forth. History has a knack of repeating itself ; and similar arguments to those which have been used against this railway have been used before. As I have been quoting from rather severe authorities, I shall conclude by citing a passage of a lighter character from- Alfred Russell Wallace's Wonderful Century. I take it from page 30 of the book, where the writer deals with the history of railways. I think that Senator Vardon and others will almost think that they hear themselves speaking -

The Quarterly Review embodied the ideas of the educated public of the period, when it declared in 1824, that " As to those persons who speculate on making railways throughout the Kingdom, and superseding all the waggons, mails, and stage coaches, postchaises, and, in short, every other mode of conveyance by land and by water, we deem them, and their visionary schemes, unworthy of notice." And, again, in 1825, when it" was proposed to make a railway from London to Woolwich, and to travel on it " at twice the speed of stage coaches with greater safety," the reviewer remarked : " We should as soon expect the people of Woolwich to suffer themselves to be fired off upon one of Congrieve's ricochet rockets, as trust themselves to the mercy of such a machine going at such a rate."

When the first great railways from London were in contemplation, much fear was expressed of injury by them, one of the most fantastic being that of the town of Northampton, which objected to have a railway and station there, on the ground (among others) that the smoke from the engines would injure the wool of the sheep.

When this question came before Parliament the Sayers, and the Millens, and the Vardons, and the St. Ledgers of that day, spoke thus - " the House aware of the smoke and the noise, the hiss and the whirl, which locomotive engines, passing at the rate of 10 or 12 miles an hour, would occasion?" "And," they concluded, '* it would be the greatest nuisance, the most complete disturbance of quiet comfort in all parts of the Kingdom, that the ingenuity of man could invent." Another member urged that " such schemes were dangerous, delusive, unsatisfactory, and, above all, unknown to the Constitution of the country."

He concluded -

He hated the very name of a railway - he hated it as he hated the devil."

I appeal to honorable senators opposite to shake off their fears, and to assist us to do something with our magnificent heritage. I appeal to Senator Keating, as a young Australian, to dissociate himself from the old Tories, whose cry is always that the time is not ripe, whose plea Is always for delay, whose excuse is always that they have not sufficient information, and to help us to grapple with the problem of settling, not merely the fringe of country around our coast, but that vast interior which can be settled only by the construction of such a railway as we propose.

Senator Givens - I desire to make a personal explanation. I have to complain that the Minister of Defence, during the course of his remarks - I hope unconsciously - misrepresented what I said in debating the motion for the second reading of this Bill. I do not think it is fair that such misrepresentation should be allowed to go uncontradicted. The Minister stated that I was visibly disappointed when I was informed that it was the intention of the Western Australian Government to complete the railway, which was already half built, from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay. Such a statement was grossly unfair, seeing that at the time the information was imparted to me, I expressed both pleasure and gratification at the news. I admit that I did not express any gratification that the railway had been constructed only half way to Esperance Bay, because I recognised that it had been built, not for the purpose of opening up communication with the sea coast for the benefit of the residents of the gold-fields', but for the purpose of dragging more of the trade of those fields to Perth and Fremantle to be an additional source of profit to property owners and traders there and consequent satisfaction to the Minister who represents them.

Senator Pearce - By way of personal explanation I wish to say that I had no intention of misrepresenting the honorable senator. I accept his assurance that he was not disappointed when the news was conveyed to him that the Government of Western Australia intended to construct a line of railway from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay, and I express regret that I misunderstood his attitude.

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