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Friday, 1 December 1911

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

That the following new sub-clause be added : - (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.

In re-submitting this amendment I have only a few words to say. Right through, I have looked upon this Bill as being above party. It is not a party measure at all. I have always been an advocate of this project, and equally have I always been an advocate that, if possible, the railway should be built on the land-grant principle. I think that my honorable friends opposite will credit me with sincerity in that respect. Last night, the Minister of Defence gave a glowing account of the future prospects of the land to be traversed by the railway.- It seems to me that in the circumstances, I was quite justified in hoping that some of the land would be available for part payment of the cost of construction, as we have received an offer to build the line, and take land in part payment. There was no intention to keep the land for an indefinite time. Senator Lynch has made some remarks with regard to the principle of my amendment being applicable to the Jervis Bay railway. That point has been taken up by Senator Millen and others, and I think that Senator Lynch will see that the cases are not parallel. Senator Millen, of course, had his own views, and said that he was not going to vote with me. That is a proof that we on this side have a certain amount of independence. We are not working necessarily as one party in this matter. Senator Stewart and I have frequently been in a minority of two or three. Sometimes persons wonder how it is that we are found voting together. I have a distinct recollection that in the first session of this Parliament, Senator Stewart and I were once in a minority of two, and that when Senator O'Connor asked what new party it was, we replied that it was the party of fair play. I was very much obliged to Senator Gould for laying emphasis on the advantages of the land grant railways in Canada and the United States of America. With all due deference to honorable senators, it is not an unwise proposal that part of the cost of this railway should come out of the land to be benefited by its construction. I do not intend to delay the Committee, because I wish to assist the Government to get the Bill put through. I hope that, whatever the result of the division may be, there will be no delay in the railway becoming an accomplished fact. I give Senator Givens credit for being actuated by high motives in the position which he is taking up ; although I must admit that I had hopes that when I got his friend Senator Stewart on my side, I might get himself too.

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