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Tuesday, 31 July 1906

Mr GROOM - I apologize and withdraw. It now appears that the honorable member for Wentworth is desirous of assisting in the passage of the Bill. He has already voted against it, but has now repented of his folly. I am glad that he has become converted. I ask the honorable member for Moira not to assist in inserting in the Bill an amendment which is utterly alien to its provisions. The measure simply seeks the authorization of Parliament to the expenditure of a certain sum upon the survey of a route, whereas the amendment proposes that, in connexion with that survey, we shall permanently appropriate part of the estate of Western Australia. When it was pointed out to Western Australia that it was desirable that they should reserve the land abutting upon the line from .sale, pending the passing of this Bill, both Houses of its State Parliament passed the following resolution : -

That, in the opinion of this House, the Government should at once reserve from sale all rural Crown lands for twenty-five miles on each side of the proposed route of the transcontinental railway, between Kalgoorlie and the eastern boundary of the State, with a view of facilitating the construction of the said railway, and that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth be so advised.

Mr Kelly - Will that have the effect of reserving these lands from sale?

Mr GROOM - At this stage, honorable members are merely asked to authorize the survey of a route. When Western Australia is asked to sanction the construction of the line, it will be for her to take whatever action she may deem to be necessary.

The honorable member is seeking to introduce a series of inconsistencies into the Bill to make it more difficult for the Government to get it passed. The Western Australian Parliament have throughout, in connexion, with this matter, dealt with us in> a fairly generous spirit, and in connexion with such an important measure we should treat them in a similar way. -Honorable members should consider that at this stage we are asking merely that an investigation shall be made. When it is made, and we have the survey of the proposed! line from point to point, we shall be in a better position to consider the advisability of taking any further action in the direction of meeting the wishes of the people of Western Australia. We are entitled to treat the people of that State with some courtesy. They made no bargain about this matter ; they came into the Federation freely, but believing, at the same time, that certain inducements held out to them would be fulfilled. It would appear now that some honorable members desire that we should make a bargain with them in connexion with the construction of the proposed line; that we should say that we will agree to the survey of the line only i'f they will agree to do this, that, and the other thing. They are asking that theseconditions shall be imposed even before we know the nature of the' route, and1 before the advisability of constructing the line has been considered. I think that we can rely upon the good faith of the people of Western Australia, as expressed in the resolutions carried in their State Parliament.

Mr Kennedy - Would any sane business man have done otherwise than is contemplated in the telegram referred to, in view of the possibility of the line being, made ?

Mr GROOM - The resolution passed by the Western Australian Parliament shows that, although the people of Western Australia are not required to do it, they are prepared to meet the Commonwealth asfar as possible.

Mr Frazer - They have undertaken, also, to duplicate the line between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle.

Mr GROOM - They have passed a Bill in their State Parliament providing that,, in the event of the standard gauge of 4 ft. 8J in. being adopted, they will impose uponthemselves the additional expense of duplicating the line on a uniform gauge straight through from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle..

They have also, in addition, provided for certain indemnities to South Australia.

Mr Carpenter - They have promised to act generously in connexion with any loss on the working of the line.

Mr GROOM - In every possible way they have shown their willingness to act generously.

Mr Carpenter - They have offered too much.

Mr GROOM - I will not say that they have offered too much, but they have treated us generously, and we should be generous in our treatment of them in return.

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