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Wednesday, 18 July 1906

Mr GLYNN (Angas) .- I approve of the amendment, considering that it would be regrettable if we spent £20,000 in making this survey without having at least an assurance that South Australia will consent to the construction of the line through her territory. The question of the likelihood of South Australia giving that consent is involved in this amendment, but, looking at the declaration of the policy of responsible persons in that State, it appears to me that the Government of South Australia is not likely to give it, at all events for some years to come.

Sir John Forrest - They will break their word if they do not.

Mr GLYNN -We are not going into that matter at! this stage.

An Honorable Member. - It would be a gross breach of faith.

Mr GLYNN - I am not to be tempted to discuss a matter that would be out of order.

SirJohn Forrest. - The honorable and learned member knows that my statement is correct.

Mr GLYNN - The right honorable member is always ready to throw out a challenge when he knows it cannot be accepted. The amendment precludes my dealing with that phase of the question, so that I shall not accept the invitation of the Treasurer.We ought to deal withthe probability of the South Australian Government allowing this railway to be constructed through their territory in considering whether, without the consent of that Government, we should enter upon an expenditure of £20,000 on a preliminary survey. Apart from the question of whether a promise was or was not given, it is unlikely that that consent will be obtained for. someyears.

Sir John Forrest - I do not agree with the honorable member.

Mr GLYNN - I am sorry to differ from so eminent an authority.

Mr Fowler - The consent might be consequent upon the survey.

Mr GLYNN - That trenches upon a further field of controversy that I am precluded from entering. I do not know that the probability is sufficient to induce us to agree to this expenditure of £20,000.

Mr Mahon - Would hot the information gained by the proposed survey be useful at any time?

Mr Johnson - It might not be worth what thesurvey would cost.

Mr GLYNN - That is the point. Is it worth £20,000? It would, perhaps, be more useful to know the possibilities disclosed by the survey of a route for a line between Oodnadatta and Pine Creek, which would be a railway connexion of far more importance than that advocated. It is not an easy sea voyage from Adelaide to the Northern Territory, but it is a comparatively short trip from Adelaide to F remantle.

Sir John Forrest - Hardly any one lives in the Northern Territory.

Mr GLYNN - We might well try to get people to live there.

Sir John Forrest - South Australia has been trying to do so for the last thirty years, but without success.

Mr GLYNN - It is generally thought, though I do not know that it is absolutely certain, that the Commonwealth cannot construct a railway through the territory of a State without the consent of that State. An experiment might be tried by continuing the Oodnadatta line northwards.

Sir John Forrest - South Australia has power to make that line.

Mr GLYNN - The point is, could the Commonwealth construct such a line without the consent of the State concerned ?

Sir John Forrest - No.

Mr GLYNN - That is the prevailing opinion, because of a provision in section 51 of the Constitution. I do not say that it is certain that the consent of the State is necessary. In America there is no such provision in the Constitution,, but there Congress has power to construct any line for the promotion of trade and commerce between the States which is clearly shown to be necessary to maintain communication. I do not know that it has been clearly shown that it is necessary to construct a line for about 1,000 miles across a desert, in order to maintain communication with Fremantle. We are therefore confronted with two problems - first, as to our constitutional power, and, secondly, as to the necessity for the line for the maintenance of trade and commerce. To vote an expenditure of £20,000 on the survey on the off-chance - which is suchas probably even Mr. Wren would not take - that the South Australian Government will, in its present temper, consent to the construction of the line, is merely pitching money away.

Sir John Forrest - I understand that the people of South Australia are now in favour of the construction of the line.

Mr GLYNN - In that case, the House should have no hesitation about agreeing to the amendment, because the carrying of it will create very little delay. All the Treasurer will have to do will be to appropriate a small part of his large surplus for the despatch of a telegram to the South Australian Executive, asking it to notify him of the consent which he says the people of that State are so desirous to give. Surely we should show South Australia the courtesy of making that request, especially if, as the Treasurer thinks, it is certain to be granted. I shall support the amendment.

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