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Tuesday, 16 December 1930

Senator HOARE (South Australia) . - As there is a general desire on the part of all the Australian Parliaments, and of the people generally, to bring about the unification of our railway gauges, this proposal, which is a link in the chain of unification, should receive the support of the Senate. Enormous expense, inconvenience and delay are caused by the " numerous breaks of gauge in our Australian railway system, and this Parliament should endeavour to removemany of the disabilities, in this respect, which now exist. Senator R. D. Elliott said that there was a grave danger of the South Australian Parliament opposing this undertaking; but those who have any knowledge of the. desire of the South Australian Government and people to support this proposal, should not have any doubt in the matter. . If a South Australian Government agreed some time ago to this proposal, which is embodied in an agreement, there is no reason why it should now wish to repudiate it. The South Australian Parliament will honour its obligations. If the north-south railway agreement is to be honored, why should not this proposal receive the approval of the South Australian Parliament ?

Senator Cox - The north-south railway should not be built.

Senator HOARE - I suppose the honorable senator, who favored the construction of the Kyogle to South Brisbane line, as a part of a general scheme to convert our main lines into a 4-ft. 8-1/2-in. gauge, will oppose theconstructionofthis line. Senator H. E. Elliott said that this measure has been introduced only to relieve unemployment. It will, of course, provide employment for a large number of deserving men, but it is also giving effect to a policy brought into operation some time ago in the interests of the whole Commonwealth. For the information of Senator H. E. Elliott, who said that no valid reasons had been advanced in support of the construction of this line, I quote the following recommendation contained in the report of the PublicWorks Committee, which was issued in 1926: -


The special advantages which the Commonwealth is expected to gain from the proposal have been stated as follows: -

(a)   Would reduce by about 70 miles the length of the journey between Adelaide and Port Augusta, and the time occupied by five hours.

(b)   Would permit of passengers and loading beingconveyed direct from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie (1,240 miles), obviating the delay and expense at present incurred in transhipment at Terowie and Port Augusta.

(c)   Would curtail by eight and a half to nine and a half hours the time at present occupied in the train journey from Adelaide to Perth.

(d)   Would enable live stock from the trans-Australian railway to be conveyed from point of loading to market in the same vehicle, thus affording arrival of stock in better condition. Under existing conditions, live stock for Adelaide has to be transhipped at Port Augusta into 3-ft.6-in. trains, and again at Terowie to 5-ft. 3-in. trains.

(e)   Would permit of live stock being conveyed from Port Augustato Dry Creek in ten to twelve hours. At present 25 hours elapse between the arrival of live stock at Port Augusta and the time of arrival at Dry Creek.

(f)   Would provide a line on which on each train 85 per cent. more loading could be carried from Port Augusta, and 54 per cent. to Port Augusta. (The existing line via Terowie rises at a couple of points to 2,000 feet, while on the proposed line via Red Hill the highest point would be 435 feet).

(g)   Would accelerate the mail service to and from Western Australia; the outward English mail would leave Melbourne and Adelaide later, and the inward English mail would be delivered in Adelaide on Fridays instead of Saturdays, and would arrive in sufficient time in Melbourne to enable delivery to bo effected on the first round on Saturday morning instead of Monday.

(h)   Would be sufficiently revenueproducing to at once pay working expenses, andaconsiderable portion, if not the whole, of the interest.

(i)   Would permit of thequotation of a through rate to Adelaide for live stock from the trans-Australian and the railway to Alice Springs, instead of being compelled to adopt the South Australian rates for portion of the distance.

(j)   Would afford, for the reasons mentioned in (b), some measure or relief from the disabilities under which the trans-Australian railway is at present worked,

(k)   Would increase the revenue on the trans-Australian railway by approximately £35,000, due to the stimulation of through traffic which would obtain for the reasons mentioned in (b).

(l)   Would permit of stores and materials required for the trans-Australian and therailway to Alice Springs being conveyed by Commonwealth trains from Adelaide,thus minimizing the expense at present incurred in freight charges.

Surely that recommendation is sufficiently strong to convince Senator H. E. Elliott that there is every necessity to construct the line. Senator J. B. Hayes, who said that the bill embodied a proposal for the building of a line through Central Australia should know that the proposed railway will not serve any part of Central Australia.

Senator J B Hayes - I said it would he built through portion of South Australia where the climate in the summer is very severe.

Senator HOARE - If the honorable senator is referring to Port Augusta, he should remember that the existing ii ii touches Port Augusta, and, whether this line is constructed or not, that point will still be -served:

Senator J B Hayes - I was referring to the conditions under which men engaged on construction work will be employed.

Senator HOARE - The permanent-way nien on the .east-west line have to work under conditions more severe than those experienced between Red Hill and Port Augusta.

Senator Daly - If the line is built work ran be made available in the winter time.

Senator HOARE - Yes. An honorable senator who said that the loss involved would be approximately £93,000 should Iia vn mentioned that at present a loss of £.1.20,000 is incurred in consequence of the necessity for the east- west traffic to travel via Terowie. Great disadvantages are also experienced by the east-west line in consequence of the competition of a fast motor vessel service between Fremantle r lid Adelaide. If the proposed line is constructed, and a third rail is provided between Red Hill and Adelaide, it will bc possible to travel from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide on the one gauge. It is unreasonable to suggest that .the thirdrail system is unworkable, because eminent railway engineers in Australia and in other countries have supported the system, which is now in operation in South Australia and in other countries, lt is, also, more economical to operate a 4-ft, 8-J-in. than a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. Senator Colebatch, who said that it would not matter if there were no railway connexion between South Australia and Western Australia, seemed to be more concerned with the interests of private enterprise than of State-controlled railways. A government which I believe the honorable senator supported paid a subsidy to an air service between Adelaide and Port Augusta, which robbed the east-west line of a good deal of its revenue. What right has any government to pay a subsidy of £39,500 to a service to operate in opposition to its own railways? The same government also, provided lights on the landing grounds under the control of the air service. For the information of honorable senators, I should like to read a statement showing the desirableness of transferring civil aviation .from the Department of Defence to the Department of Markets and Transport.

The PRESIDENT - Is the statement connected with the measure under discussion 'i

Senator HOARE - I contend that it is.

The PRESIDENT - It is for the honorable senator to show that that is so.

Senator HOARE - I am endeavouring to show why' the east-west railway is not paying.' The statement reads -

Up to the 30th June., 1 929,- the total expenditure on railways owned and operated by thi? department was £14,134,213.. Of this amount. £5,730,355 was the cost of the trans-Australian railway Since the opening of "the transAustralian railway line in August, 1917, to the 30th June, 1929, the earnings increased from £175,039 per annum to £322,199, and during the same period there was an improvement from a loss of £57,429 over working expenses to an increase of revenue over working expenses of £31,929.

After that favorable position had been reached' a 'previous administration paid a subsidy to an air service which enabled it to carry passengers from Adelaide to Perth at the same .rate as the transcontinental railway. Where they arc not in competition with the railways, the air services charge more. For example, the charge from Brisbane to Camooweal, a distance of 1,710 miles, is £31. It should be the duty of this Parliament to protect the public purse. We should not stand idly by and see the Commonwealth or State railway systems fleeced by subsidized competitors. On the contrary, we should do all that is possible to enable the railway authorities to make up the leeway in their finances, and encourage people to use the railways. The construction of this section will eliminate two breaks of gauges, and should make the transcontinental train a more popular one with travellers who dread the changes that are necessary at the break of gauge stations. The Senate will be acting wisely if it passes the bill. Some honorable senators have criticized the proposal on the ground that the Minister didnot state what steps the Government intended to take to finance the undertaking. There need be no misgivings on that score. In all probability, the Government will not have to find the money. The Senate should pass the bill, and throw on the Government the onus of obtaining the money to carry out the work.

Senator DUNCAN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What did the honorable senator mean when he said that, in all probability, the Government will not have to find the money?

Senator HOARE - I am not going to say any more on that point. I have said as much as I wished to say, and I think I have conveyed my. meaning to honorable senators.

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