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Friday, 29 June 1906

Mr CAMERON (Wilmot) . - I rise to protest most emphatically against the waste of money which will be involved in the proposed survey of this line. Ever since the Federal Parliament has been- in existence, the construction of this railway has been a pet project of the present Treasurer, and I presume, also, of other honorable members representing Western Australian constituencies. I well remember that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in the first Parliament, who was one of the ablest men. who ever came from Western Australia, and who had a thorough knowledge of this project, was emphatically against it until, first of all, the existing "State railways were connected1 with Esperance Bay.

Mr Frazer - -Probably that is why Kalgoorlie recognised that gentleman's merit.

Mr CAMERON - All I can say is that the people of Kalgoorlie made a very bad exchange.

Mr Watson - The electors of Kalgoorlie should be the best judges of that.

Mr CAMERON - I am giving only my independent' testimony on the point. It must not be forgotten that each State in the Federation must bear on a -per capita basis its share of the cost of every new scheme agreed to by this Parliament, and involving the expenditure of money. It appears to me that until the per capita arrangement is applied in other directions as well as to new expenditure, it is hardly fair to saddle the smaller States with additional expense. The history of all such surveys will, no doubt, be repeated in this case, and once we have passed this Bill we shall have presented to us such" a glowing report that we shall be forthwith asked to vote money or float a loan, for the construction of the railway.

Mr Storrer - This is the thin end of the wedge.

Mr CAMERON - There is no doubt that it is. We find that representatives of the larger States are only too happy at all times. to permit the smaller States to come in and share on the per capita basis the cost of works from which they will derive no benefit. We do not find the same reckless prodigality exhibited when suggestions are made that in the near future the distribution of Federal revenue should be carried out on the same basis. Last session I was particularly struck with a speech delivered by the honorable member for Mernda, in which the honorable member was good enough to propose that the Braddon " blot " should be done away with, and that a per capita distribution of revenue should take place - that the revenues of the four principal States should be pooled per capita on the one side and the revenues of the smaller States should be pooled in the same way on the other. In making that suggestion, the honorable member entirely overlooked the provisions of the Constitution for which he is such a stickler.

Mr Harper - I did not make that suggestion.

Mr CAMERON - The honorable .member must excuse me, he did. I read his statement. The Constitution prevents any such per capita arrangement as that suggested by the honorable member last session. So long as the larger States show themselves unwilling, to deal liberally with the smaller States, I shall conceive it to be my duty, in the interests of the latter, to resist expenditure from which they will derive no benefit.

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