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Wednesday, 2 October 1912


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) 3-58].- We have listened, attentively to Senator de Largie's speech, and I have no doubt that honorable senators will agree with a great deal that he said. But, at the same time, he said much to which exception might be taken. Before criticising his remarks, I should like to congratuate the Government upon the bold front they are showing in regard to a measure of this character. But no policy is disclosed in it. Whatever Government might have been in office would have found it necessary to propose the construction of this line. Whether, ultimately, we wished to take the railway down to Adelaide or to the Queensland border, it had to go to the Katherine River. But what I complain about is that the Government have not attempted to indicate any future policy in regard to the railway. We all knew that this bit of line had to be constructed ; but we want to know whether they propose to carry the railway right or in a direct line to South Australia, or do they propose to carry it to the east in order to link it up with the Queensland railways? We recognise that, under the agreement which has been entered into, a railway must be constructed to connect Pine Creek with Oodnadatta. This is part of the agreement upon which the Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth, and it must be carried out in due time. I have heard some honorable senators say that we are not bound to time in the matter, but I presume that representatives of South Australia would contend that the railway should be constructed within a reasonable time. Whether this line is carried by the direct route towards South Australia, or is taken towards the Queensland border, there can be no question that if we expect to develop the Northern Territory within a reasonable time we shall have to adopt a policy of railway construction towards the Queensland border. To talk of developing the Territory by a line running through the centre of it to South Australia is, in my opinion, to talk nonsense.


Senator Guthrie - Not running down, but up.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I recognise that Senator Guthrie's view is that the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta should be extended to the MacDonnell Ranges, and so on, to Pine Creek. South Australian representatives believe in that policy because they think that it will best carry out what

South Australia desires, but which, unfortunately, she had not the means of doing herself. We cannot blind our eyes to the fact that whether the Territory were administered by a State, or by the Commonwealth, its development, if justice were to be done to Australia as a whole, must involve the expenditure of enormous sums of money. I have always admitted that it was not fair to expect any one State to take upon itself the burden of the development of the Territory in such a way as to lead to its settlement, and to the protection of Australia from invasion through what has been termed " the back door." Though, probably, no member of this Parliament objected to the taking over of the Territory by the Commonwealth a great many did very strongly object to the terms and conditions imposed upon the Commonwealth. One of those conditions is the construction of a railway by a direct route from the north to the south, and another was the taking over by the Commonwealth of a most unremunerative line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, which it is intended shall form part of the great central trunk line.


Senator Guthrie - And which the State Treasurer says will pay next year.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I shall be very agreeably surprised if it does. I look forward with confidence to a deficit on the working of that line for a very considerable time. I shall not say for all time, because I trust that when Australia's waste places are filled up we shall find it possible to construct railways in all directions which will pay directly for their management and control. The object of the proposal that railway construction should be proceeded with northwards from Oodnadatta is that the first line of communication with the Territory should be through South Australia to Port Darwin without affording an opportunity for linking up the Territory with the other States.


Senator Vardon - Hear, hear.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I say that I am definitely opposed to that policy


Senator McGregor - That would not prevent the linking up with the other States. We do nol require a boomerang railway, in order to connect the Territory with the other States.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - How are we, by the adoption of such a policy, to connect the Territory with Che Queensland system of railways t Queensland may build her railways to the border of the Territory, but she could take them no further unless by permission of the Commonwealth Government.


Senator McGregor - The Commonwealth will not come to an end in a year >or two.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I hope it will not come to an end in a century or two, but if we are going to develop the Northern Territory we should adopt the best and the quickest means for the purpose, and I say that, unquestionably, it can be better and more speedily developed from the east than from the south.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Why not from the south-east?


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - I am referring to the running of a railway from the Katherine River towards the >east, -so that Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria may all t>e linked up with the Northern Territory.


Senator Vardon - That would not develop the Territory.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir- ALBERTGOULD. - It must do so, because we shall have to draw the population, for its development, chiefly from the eastern States of the Commonwealth


Senator Guthrie - We are going to develop it from -the south by a railway through the MacDonnell Ranges to the north.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - How many people are there settled on the MacDonnell Ranges country? I suppose it would be possible to count the white people there on one's fingers, though there may be a few more black people there.


Senator Guthrie - How many people Were at Broken Hill when the railway was Constructed to that place?


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD. - Probably there were very few, but there were indications of immense development in the district in the immediate future. T do not wish honorable senators to think that I am opposed to the construction of railways to places where, at the present moment, there is not any considerable population, if there are indications that the districts served by such railways might be successfully developed. Assuming that a district is suitable for settlement we might very well adopt the policy pursued in America of railway construction in advance of settlement. Honorablesenators are aware that the population of Queensland is larger than that of SouthAustralia ; the population of New South Wales is still larger.


Senator Guthrie - In Sydney.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - And outside of Sydney, .also. Adelaide contains a greater proportion of the population of the State of which it is the capital than does the capital of any other State in the Commonwealth. Queensland has adopted the policy of constructing railways from various points on her eastern seaboard towards her western boundary, and it is to the railway system of that State we must look for the quickest development of the Northern Territory. We 'haveheard something of the great necessity .of protecting Port Darwin, and of being able to transport troops to that place should the necessity arise. I remind honorable senators that the largest body of troops will always be available in the eastern and southeastern States, and they may be much moreeasily transported from those States to the Northern Territory if it is connected with their railways systems, than they could be by taking them first to Adelaide, and thence by rail to Port Darwin or any of the exposed portions of the Territory. I cannot conceive how any honorable senator, viewing the matter without prejudice, can hesitate to admit that, in the interests of the people of Australia, the Northern Territory can bebest and most speedily developed from the east or south-east, as Senator Russell has suggested.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - The honorable senator has mistaken my meaning. I wanted to know what objection there was to linking up the Territory with the south-east as well as with the east. I was not barracking for Victoria.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am referring to the way in which it should first be connected with the rest of the Commonwealth. We have not unlimited means at our disposal, and the sooner we carry out effective work in the development of the Northern Territory the better. The shortest lines of communication must be those with the eastern coast, and they would go through better country than will be traversed by a line following the telegraph line directly from north to south. I admit that there were strong temptations originally for representatives of South Australia to look at the matter in a very prejudiced way. That State had charge of the Territory for many years, and the object of the South Australian people naturally was that the Territory should be developed in such a way as to give the greatest advantage to the State engaged in the work. But we have got past that stage of our history now, though we have had a very hard bargain driven with us. The Commonwealth acted in the most liberal spirit in taking over the Territory upon the terms and conditions of the agreement. South Australia was practically in a condition of bankruptcy, so far as the Northern Territory was concerned. She had to bear an enormous debt upon which interest had to be paid every year, and the revenue derived from the Territory did not approximate to the expenditure necessary to carry on the work of development.


Senator Vardon - The Territory was a big asset all the time.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Such as it is. What have been the attempts to develop the Territory hitherto? Enormous areas were let to pastoral lessees at ridiculously low rentals. This was done because, without such inducements, no one could be found prepared to take up the country.


Senator Guthrie - Because of lack of means of communication.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Because of lack of means of communication, insufficient water supply, and poor country. We find that the present Commonwealth Government, having sent a number of administrators to the Northern. Territory, have had to recognise the poor quality generally of the land, and have found it necessary, even under a perpetual leasehold system, to offer enormous areas in order to induce persons to settle in the Territory. I presume that the Government officers who have been sent to the Northern Territory have, as far as possible, made themselves acquainted with it, and have advised the Government as to the best means to adopt for its development. That kind of development might be continued for scores of years, and we might still have only a handful of people in the Territory, and not sufficient revenue from it to defray the ordinary expenses of its administration. Are we to add to these difficulties the adoption of an unwise policy of railway construction, which can lead to no developmental work in the best interests of the Commonwealth for many years to come? While I am prepared to give my vote for continuing the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, I wish it to be definitely understood that, so far as I have been able to make myself acquainted with the circumstances of the country, I believe that it must be developed from the eastern seaboard, and the wisest policy to adopt will be to carry railways in that direction. We may have something like a boomerang railway before we reach South Australia, but that, in my opinion, is the only course to adopt if we are to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth with our limited means. If we were in a position to construct a railway by the direct route from north to south, and, at the same time, construct railways to connect with the Queensland railway system, I should say well and good. We have made a bargain in the matter, and while I say that the direct railway should be constructed, I am satisfied that its construction will involve a heavy load of debt upon the Commonwealth.


Senator Vardon - If we built the direct line, Queensland could connect her railways with it where she pleased.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- I wish the line from Port Darwin continued by such a route that Queensland can connect with it as speedily as possible.


Senator Guthrie - With the consent of the Commonwealth.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that he wishes to carry this line north and south, and at the same time to say to Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, " You may link up as many Tailways as you like with the line going through the Northern Territory, but you must do so at your own. expense?" Is that the policy ?


Senator Guthrie - No.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- If that is not the policy, then you should carry the railway right over to the western boundary Of Queensland.


Senator Guthrie - For the benefit of Sydney ?


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Sydney would not get very much benefit out of such a line. I recognise that Queensland is the State which would derive a benefit from its construction. Now, is the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River to be constructed with white labour, or are we to have a repetition of the experience of "South Australia in building the existing line to Pine Creek?

We know that that work was carried out with coloured labour.


Senator McGregor - Yes, but it was done by contract.

SenatorLt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT

GOULD - The contractor had the option of building the railway with white or coloured labour ; but if he adopted coloured labour he was to lose £80,000 on the contract price. Although he started with white labour, he soon found that it was unequal to his requirements.


Senator McGregor - He never did anything of the kind.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The honorable senator was, perhaps, in the State Parliament at the time. My information is that the contractor started with white labour, but very soon he had to substitute coloured labour; and for doing so he had to forfeit something like £80,000. There must have been some reason for that. I know that it will be a. very difficult proposition to develop this country with white labour; but that is the policy of the Commonwealth, and we intend to carry it out, if possible. I ask the Government to say whether the line is going to be built with white labour, and whether there has been a careful estimate made as regards the cost? We know that while they have shied at a bridge across the Katherine River at an outlay of £170,000, there will be two or three very big bridges to be built between the terminal points. We are absolutely in the dark as regards the question of cost. The Government come down here and, in effect, say, " We want, not a flying or exploratory survey, but a permanent survey, made of this portion of the transcontinental line, so that we may immediately set to work and build it." But we ought to know definitely how the work is to be carried out, the probable cost, the nature of the country to be traversed, and the possibility of development. I am told that the country will prove to be practically worthless; but that this is an essential portion of the lines which we will be compelled to construct in the Territory. All these things ought to have been explained to us; but the Government merely come down and, in effect, say, " We want to build a railway, but we have no particulars to give you. We want you to pledge yourselves to the construction of the line, which, we think, will cost £500,000. We are not going to tell you how long the work of construction will take, but we are going to build the line."

What we want, and what I hope to see soon is a Parliamentary Committee appointed for the purpose of investigating and reporting upon all big works proposed to be carried out. I am, of course, prepared to give the Government credit for desiring to do the best they can in the intern terests of the country; but, after all is said and done, we*, as the men who have to sanction the policy of the Government and vote the money, want to be in a position to give an intelligent reply to the Government, and not to merely say, " We are going to shut our eyes and open our mouths and see what Goody will send us." We need full particulars. It mav take a little longer to carry out a work, but probably we should make fewer mistakes as regards both the expenditure of money and the development of the country. I do not know what the Government may think of my suggestion. We are building another great railway under almost practically the same conditions - with very little information in our possession. We will assume that this extension from Pine Creek to Katherine River is going to be built with day labour, and that it can be built for .£500,000, though I should not be surprised to see the estimate vastly exceeded.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - It would not be the first time, either.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Nor would it be the first time that a contractor has exceeded the estimate.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - "Unless the Government place men in control of the labour, and give themample power to act just as would an ordinary contractor, they will not make a success of the experiment. In New South Wales, day labour has been tried in connexion with the construction of the north coast railway, and there we know that money has been expended badly, and that inefficient work has been done in consequence of insufficient control and management. When we hear that a workman is able togo and complain to the Minister about theway in which his boss or superintendent istreating him, to get the ear of the Ministeras against the other man, it does not speak very well for the policy of employing daylabour.


Senator McGregor - Are you back orv " the man on the job " ?


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No; I am making a casual allusion to the system.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Have not the whole of those charges been disproved?


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - No, but they have been denied. I hope, at any rate, that the Government will not give opportunities to persons to make similar complaints, because this railway will have to be built as economically as possible. With much of what Senator de Largie has said we probably agree. We all agree as to the desirability of populating the Northern Territory. We all recognise that it must be populated as speedily as possible if it is to be made a source of strength, instead of a source of weakness, to the country. I am glad to know that the honorable senator, although he had a little fling in regard to the immigrants coming to the more populous States realizes that immigration must be insisted upon, and carried out thoroughly and effectively, if the Northern Territory is to be developed at all. He commends the character of many of the men from Southern Europe, but I would remind him that a great many persons might come from portions of Southern Europe who would be a curse to this country.


Senator Guthrie - They would cut your throat at any time.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Yes, if we are to judge by the experience of America.


Senator de Largie - Men from the north of Europe would cut your throat for halfacrown.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that secret societies not only exist in Europe, but have been extended here.


Senator de Largie - Are there none in the north of Europe?


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - There are; but they are not constituted by the same class of persons as are the secret societies in the southern parts of Europe. A friend, talking to me about the stream of immigration to Canada and the United States,expressed the opinion that one of the worst things that could happen to Australia would be to get many of certain of the classes of people who emigrate to these two countries.


Senator O'Keefe - Many of those we get now from Great Britain are not very good specimens.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am afraid that there are some, people coming from the Old Country who are not of the best type, but that may be the fault of our immigration agents there. There can be no question that there are any number of good citizens to be obtained in the Old Country, as well as onthe Continent, if our representatives take the proper steps to insure that only suitable persons come here. Even then,some undesirables will slip by.


Senator de Largie - Morality is quite as high in the south of Europe as it is in the north, and the standard of intelligence is equally high, too.


Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - What I have read and heard leads me to believe that it would not be wise for us to get people from many portions of . southern Europe, as they would be a source of serious trouble to us. However, I do not wish to labour that question. I am prepared to support the second reading of this Bill, because I recognise the necessity of communication being opened up as speedily as possible with the Katherine River. But I believe that the immediate development, of the country is to come from the east, and not from the south, and when it becomes necessary to continue the railway from Katherine River, I hope that the policy placed before us will be that of carrying the line over towards the Queensland border, in order that that State may have an opportunity of linking up its railway system, and so help to develop the country at large more rapidly than could be done by an extension from South Australia, and also facilitate the transport of troops in an emergency.

Senator E.J. RUSSELL (Victoria) [4.27). - I want to give a general support to the Bill, not so much because of what it contains as on the assumption that it is part of a continuous policy. I am disappointed that this proposal is not accompanied by a general outline of the policy that is to be adopted in regard to the Territory. If I thought that the development of the Territory was to stop with what has been proposed, namely, its development so far south as the Katherine River, I should have little or no hesitation in voting against the Bill, because my study of the reports has led me to one conclusion, and that is that the greatest difficulty we shall have will be to get a white population in that portion of the Territory which is north of the Katherine River. It is clear that some of us are in a peculiar position. Senator Gould feels quite at liberty to support the Bill because he believes that the terminal point of this line will practically lead to nowhere, and he may still be able to follow out his hobby of having the line bent towards the border of Queensland and New South Wales. Unfortunately, I think, so far as the general policy is concerned, I am in the position of being able to support the railway leading to this point which we will call nowhere, because I recognise that it does not take it very far off what, after all, would be the direct route south to Oodnadatta. That is one of my regrets. It has been put forward, of course, that from time to time the Government will unfold their policy in regard to the Territory. My opinion is that we cannot have a piecemeal policy. We ought to have a policy for the whole of the Territory declared, and work up to it from, year to year.


Senator McGregor - Do you mean a railway or a general policy?







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