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Friday, 1 December 1911

Senator McCOLL (Victoria) . - I support the amendment because though I hold with Senator Millen that it would be to some extent unworkable, I nevertheless believe that the Commonwealth ought in some way to obtain a return for the enormous expenditure that is to be incurred. It is not only the cost of the construction of the railway that we have to consider. There will also be the cost of maintenance, between£80and£90 per mile in the first two or three years. That cost will increase largely, until in the course of time, owing to renewals, it will become nearly double that amount. Then there will be the interest on the cost of construction, some £140,000 a year; and, in addition, the loss on the actual running. Altogether the expenditure will be so great that I consider that we should not be doing our duty if we did not endeavour to secure from the two States which are going to be benefited some return to recoup the people of the Commonwealth. No consideration has been given to the other States. The interest of South Australia and Western Australia only have been regarded. Some States will have to incur the cost of the conversion of their own lines later on to bring their gauges into conformity with the gauge generally prevailing throughout the continent. That expense has to be considered. I support the amendment also because it is but fair that the Commonwealth should obtain a return for the money to be spent. Senator Lynch and Senator E. J. Russell fell into an error as to the Victorian practice. It was said that Victoria had abandoned the system of loading country lands in order to obtain the developmental value.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I said that Victoria had abandoned the principle because it retarded settlement.

Senator McCOLL - Victoria has never had any legislation under which the incremental value of land was returned to the State. The principle adopted some years ago was that where a district was obtaining a railway, and where, after reference to the Railways Standing Committee it was found that the traffic would not be sufficient to recoup interest, cost of maintenance and working, a guarantee should be obtained from the land-owners to pay so much per annum to make up the loss. ' That was all that was done. As soon as the traffic on the line increased, and it became payable, the embargo was taken away.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Sometimes Victoria demanded guarantees from municipalities.

Senator McCOLL - That was only to cover the cost of working. It was felt last session, however, that the system was not fair, because it did not treat new districts in the same way as older districts had been treated. Therefore the system was abandoned.

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