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Friday, 1 December 1911

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - 1 move -

That the following new sub-clause be added to the clause : - " (3.) In order to, in time, partially recoup the Commonwealth for the capital expenditure involved in the construction of the railway, it shall be a further condition, precedent to the work being entered upon, that the States of South Australia and Western Australia respectively shall reserve from sale and vest in the Commonwealth all the Crown lands in alternate sections of ten miles square on both sides of the line as ultimately adopted (exclusive of the reservations required under the previous subsection) along its whole length throughout the territories of the respective States. Provided that land shall not be so granted within fifteen miles of the terminal points of the line."

My reason for exempting the land within 15 miles of the terminal points is that I do not want to deprive either Western Australia or South Australia of the value of that land.

Senator Stewart - That will be the most valuable portion.

Senator WALKER - I recognise that, but we cannot get all that we want, and I am more moderate than the honorable senator, with whose remarks I quite agree. The unearned increment attached to land in consequence of public works should go to the Government which pays for those works. Some people do not understand the .difference between 10 square miles and 10 miles square. Allow me to mention that 10 miles square means 100 square miles. Therefore if my suggestion is adopted, it will mean that the Commonwealth will acquire 103,300 square miles, or 66,112,000 acres. My impression is that in course of time the land as a whole will be honestly worth at least is. 3d. an acre.

Senator Vardon - More like £1 3s. per acre, does not the honorable senator think, judging from what the supporters of the Bill have said?

Senator WALKER - Many people think that the land is valueless. The late Sir Richard Baker held that opinion. I have a more hopeful belief in the future of Australia. If the land which I propose to acquire be worth is. 3d. per acre, we shall obtain over £4,000,000 towards the cost of the railway. I understand that some pressure has been brought to bear upon certain honorable senators to induce them to refrain from supporting this proposal, for fear that the two States which will be principally benefited will not give us any land beyond that which is provided for in other portions of the Bill. But I shall certainly divide the Committee on the proposal. The total length of the line is 1,063 miles. Subtracting 15 miles from each end - 30 miles altogether - and we are left with 1,033 miles. Converting that area into acreage, it amounts to 103,000 square miles. I am not sure whether it would not be larger than the whole State of Victoria:

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould'. - Victoria has 87,000 square miles.

Senator WALKER - We must also remember that the two States concerned will hold the contiguous blocks which will become more valuable. Consequently the States will secure a large amount of unearned increment from the adjoining land.My proposal is not extreme, and I trust that the Committee will receive it with favour.

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