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Thursday, 3 November 1910

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - I do not intend to oppose the amendment, but it enables me to direct attention to the fact that this clause deals with the transfer of public officials who are not dealt with in the previous clause. Clause 1 1 refers to officials engaged in the Northern Territory. This clause goes fur.ther, and applies to public servants whom the Commonwealth will employ in carrying on the railway service on the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta. Under the agreement the Commonwealth is to construct a line from some point on the Port AugustaOodnadatta line to the northern boundary of the State of South Australia. That will involve the employment of engineers, surveyors, and all sorts of people, and I venture now to repeat the question put by Senator Givens on the previous clause. Do the Government intend this session to submit a measure to enable the Commonwealth to deal with these officials? The moment the proclamation is issued completing this agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth, the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line will fall into our hands. We shall acquire that railway - including the lands now used for and reserved for such railway, together with all stations and other buildings, sidings, wharfs, and other accessories used in connexion with the working of the said railway, except the railway carriages, trucks, and other movable plant and rollingstock.

Senator Givens - We may have the whole of the old rolling-stock of the South Australian railways handed over to us.

Senator CHATAWAY - What I wish to know is what steps are to be taken by the Commonwealth this session for the control of the matters which will come into our hands on the completion of the agreement? Are we to understand that the agreement is to be allowed to remain a dead-letter until next session. The South Australian people, as well as the people of the Commonwealth, are entitled to know what is to be done. We shall be taking over from South Australia a non-paying railway within the borders of the State, as well as the accessories and officials connected with the working of it. We should know whether the Government, without consulting Parliament, intend to carry on the railway under a sort of dictatorship, or whether they propose, as 1 hope they do, to allow the agreement to remain a dead-letter for the next twelve months.

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