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4-418 (Raw)

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Speaker:
addressee author,male,Deakin, Alfred,42
ns1:discourse_type
Oratory
Word Count :
4387
Plaint Text :
ns1:register
Speech Based
ns1:texttype
Minutes
ns1:localityName
http://dbpedia.org/resource/Victoria
Created:
1898
Identifier
4-418
Source
Federation Debates Melbourne, Jan 21
pages
38-45
Document metadata
Extent:
25450
Identifier
4-418-raw.txt
Title
4-418#Raw
Type
Raw

4-418-raw.txt — 24 KB

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<source><g=m><o=a><age=42><status=2><abode=nv><p=vic><r=spb><tt=mi><4-418>
Mr. DEAKIN (Victoria). -  
Without attempting to follow the honorable member (Mr. Gordon) through the many flights of oratory with which he has charmed us, and with the breadth of criticism which he has offered on all the issues involved, I rise for [39] the purpose of submitting a few considerations, trusting that they will be of some service in the settlement of this issue. I propose to take advantage of this amendment to consider for a moment it is an inter-colonial traffic. The points of arrival and departure of the river traffic are very rarely in the same colony. The traffic of the Murray and its tributaries is therefore in its essence inter-colonial, and one would, therefore, suppose that it was properly open to, and required, federal control. The first broad question we have put is answered, since the facts of the case point naturally in the direction of the propriety of conferring upon the Federal Government, at all events, a power of control over what is practically the federal and inter-colonial navigation of the interior. That is prima facie a most reasonable demand, and would require to be rebutted by important considerations of expediency, if it were put aside. The next question is that, since the traffic is inter-colonial, and cannot be efficiently dealt with except by inter-colonial agreement or inter-colonial legislation- 
Mr. MCMILLAN. -  
Is it possible to define "navigable"? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I think so. There is a great body of decisions in the United States, where the Federal Government have control of navigable streams, that settles by means of particular instances a certain number of principles which would allow of the determination of the question as to where a river begins and ceases to be navigable. 
Mr. BARTON. -  
It must also be remembered that there is a great quantity of water there. 
Mr. REID. -  
Are navigable rivers mentioned in the Constitution? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
No commerce is mentioned, and naturally that is only affected where the river is navigable. While it is perfectly true that the rivers which were in the mind's eye of the framers of the American Constitution were the noble streams of the eastern states, it is well to remember that federal laws now apply equally to all the rivers of the west in the great republic. There the physical conditions are similar to ours. There are immense areas of arid country with streams having an intermittent flow. 
Mr. BARTON. -  
The framers of the American Constitution had no thought of that when they passed the provision with regard to the regulation of commerce. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
That is the case. It was then only necessary to consider the utilization of water for navigation, and the question of irrigation was not in view. We have now to deal with a different set of circumstances. But the word "navigable" is largely defined in various American decisions, and, therefore, it might if necessary be readily defined for the purposes of our Constitution. I was about to leave that branch of the subject with the simple statement that it seems natural, desirable, and proper that what is really inter-colonial intercourse upon our rivers should be under federal control. Another question was touched upon in one very important aspect by the honorable member (Mr. Gordon) in his finished and elaborate discourse. That was the relation which this traffic upon inter-colonial streams bears to the railways of the colonies. He only considered it in a single aspect. He said, if it would be undesirable in [40] a federal state to permit a continuance of a war of railway rates, it would be equally undesirable to permit of a war of rates as to river-borne produce. But there is another consideration that has been pressed upon the consideration of the Finance Committee and the whole of this Convention by the evidence which the late Mr. Eddy gave before the Finance Committee in Adelaide. It would lead me too far afield to refer in detail to that evidence, but it will be found on pages 160-163 in the report of the proceedings of the Convention in Sydney. It was there published for the first time. Although Mr. Eddy hesitated to say that the Federal Government should seek to take entire control of the river-borne traffic, because it is in private hands, and that would mean a serious interference with private trade and business, yet all his arguments went to support the contention which he in one part of his evidence admits, that some control is decidedly necessary in the interests of the railways, and also in the national interests. He points out that railway rates in many parts of the interior are determined by river rates, and that those river rates are open to very great alterations which defeat all possible calculations by the railway authorities as to the returns in any given year from any given rates. He points out that it is undesirable that this state of things should continue either in the interests of railway traffic or national interests. He seemed to think, not only as a railway man but as a citizen of these colonies, that it is essential if railway charges are to be subject in any degree to federal control, if the rates of carriage are to be fixed in any way by federal authority, that the aim of such control would be incompletely fulfilled unless power of some kind were given over the charges upon traffic which passes in competition with the railways, not along other railways, but along the natural water-courses of the country. The State has spent large sums in keeping there water-course open for the longest possible period in each year. If the railway rates are to be in any degree subject to federal control while this disturbing element remains, it will be a task of almost insuperable difficulty to fix them in those regions. 
Mr. FRASER. -  
It will not be more difficult than at present. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
The honorable member knows the great advantage which the competing railway and river rates confer on growers of wool who can avail themselves of them. I can understand that it is an undesirable suggestion that there should be harmony between these rivals from the point of view of the producers. I only wish to point out that in addition to the many considerations so ably put by the honorable member (Mr. Gordon) one most important consideration is the effect of these water carriage rates upon the railway rates, and their effect upon the revenues of individual colonies or of the Federal Government. When we refer to the control of this great river system or any similar system in Australia for the purposes of navigation, we find ourselves confronted by the necessity, if the opportunities which these systems offer to us for the commerce of the interior are to be fully availed of, for constructing works upon those rivers which must far surpass the powers and resources of even the richest colony of the group. Many of these works must be undertaken outside the limits of any particular colony. Our rivers differ from the superb systems of the eastern states of America, inasmuch as they are often shallow and intermittent although liable to great floods. To secure a regular and even flow for the longest possible period during the year regulating works would be necessary which would extend from high up near the sources to their very mouths. In South Australia a proposition has been considered which would involve a very extensive deepening of the mouth of the River Murray that would [41] improve the navigation so far as it would tend to admit larger vessels into the river system, but it would also tend to injure navigation by diminishing the duration of the period within which navigation is possible, because it would make the escape of the waters of the river to the ocean freer, and would tend to empty the river at an earlier period than at present. 
Mr. HOWE. -  
We did not make that proposition. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
It has been proposed, and if the question of navigation is to be dealt with it ought to be considered. 
Mr. SYMON. -  
If such a work were ever carried out it would have to be a federal matter. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I am leading up to that. Whilst that work is desirable in the interests of navigation in one aspect it is not desirable in another aspect unless it is accompanied by additional works. The proposals which have been before the Government of New South Wales to deal with that great tributary of the Murray-the Darling-involving the construction of locks along that river-would have to be extended until they embraced the Murray itself. They would have to deal with the whole of the system from the mouth upwards so as to bring the river at proper intervals under the control of a system of works which, while allowing fuller access to navigation, would prevent the free escape of the waters to the sea. I merely mention this as an indication of the gigantic works which will be necessary. Not gigantic in cost in comparison with those undertaken in America at the head of the Mississippi and Missouri, but gigantic when viewed from the Australian stand-point; yet an expenditure which is absolutely necessary if that river and its tributaries are to be put to their best possible use for the purpose of developing the interior commerce of Australia. It would be equally necessary to cope in some way with the extraordinary floods to which this great system is liable. They can only be dealt with in the higher parts of the stream by a system of diversion or storage, or of diversion and storage, which might enable the level of the river to be maintained for a longer period than at present, regulating its flow, and at the same time affording an opportunity, during a season of plenty, to retain waters which would be of inexpressible value in seasons of dearth. If you once look at the question as I am asking the Convention to look at it, from the natural physical stand-point, the desirability of a federal control of what is practically federal commerce, by an expenditure upon works which must be federal to preserve navigation, you are brought face to face with the other question introduced by my honorable friend. This relates to the immense possibilities within the limits of the water supply which are afforded for the development of agriculture in the interior by means of irrigation. This was dwelt upon by the honorable member (Mr. Carruthers) in Adelaide with great force, with great effect, and with no whit of exaggeration. He detailed to us some of the brilliant results which had been achieved in the interior of New South Wales by the construction of simple dams or weirs for the preservation of part of the waters which now flow to waste. There is no doubt that in the future New South Wales and Victoria, in pursuance of their policy of development, are likely to increase the number and scale on which such works are executed. Hence, the consideration of works for navigation has brought us face to face with the necessity from the irrigation stand-point of constructing other works on the same streams. Thus we find that the problem of irrigation becomes inextricably intertwined with the problem of navigation, and that the interests of one must be studied in connexion with the interests of the other. The interests of both can best be dealt with [42] in common, and I venture to submit from the irrigation stand-point-the stand-point which impressed the honorable member (Mr. Carruthers) and other representatives of New South Wales-that we have yet to learn that these two interests are necessary antagonistic. We have yet to learn that it would not be possible, by a federal system dealing with this river from its source to its mouth, to provide as much navigation as would be required, consistent with what I, in common with the representatives for New South Wales, take to be the first consideration in connexion with the river, and that is the distribution of as much of its waters as can be regularly or periodically made available to increase cultivation and settlement on the soil. Why should not those interests go together? There is no insuperable obstacle to prevent their being dealt with jointly. It may be proved from the local point of view that they should be dealt with together, in order that the best results may be obtained from both. It may be that to some extent the construction of works on the lower part of the river would be of material advantage to the inhabitants of the remote interior, as far as they improve its navigability and means of communication which are offered from the sea into the heart of New South Wales. But putting speculation aside, the real difficulty of this question is that there are three parties at present interested, namely, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. 
Mr. GORDON. -  
And all Australia through them. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
Indirectly and remotely, no doubt. The Victorian interest is limited, and owing to the physical circumstances of the case the Victorian attitude can be impartial in this matter, because any gain which we can share in must be general, whereas our own interests are pretty well protected by nature and our own past exertions. We need look forward with very little alarm to whatever course is pursued. The difficulty is that New South Wales contains the Darling, the Lachlan-the head and body of all these streams-the Lachlan, the Murrumbidgee, and the Darling. 
Mr. REID. -  
It holds the whole of them. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I said the whole of them. 
Mr. REID. -  
No; the honorable member said the body of them. 
Mr. GORDON. -  
Some of the tributaries of the Darling are in Queensland. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
They are not worth mentioning; they are insignificant. New South Wales holds the whole of those streams, and her representatives are placed in the difficult position that they are asked to yield apparently all the concessions which are involved in the acceptance of the federal control of this great arterial river system. South Australia, on the other hand, which is naturally most urgent for the federal control of this river-any control, though partial only being better for them than the entire absence of authority, from which it at present suffers in respect of the streams beyond its borders-is in the position of practically making no concession and reaping an immense advantage. Naturally, as I pointed out to the honorable member before he spoke, his pleas, sound as they appear to me, are received with some questioning by the representatives of New South Wales when his request, although evidently federal in nature and object, appears to be all to the gain of his own colony, and all at the risk, for it is no more than a risk, of New South Wales. Victoria, as I say, is asked to risk comparatively little or nothing by placing these main streams under federal control, but New South Wales is certainly asked to risk something; and, as it was very fairly put at Adelaide, the representatives of that colony view with proper anxiety a request to transfer the absolute control of the main tributaries of a river which they undoubtedly at present possess-which, in fact, they possess under any and every circumstance unless they choose to yield to appeals [43] which are made to them. They naturally look with some suspicion on a proposal even to share with South Australia the control of these tributaries within their own territory. 
Mr. DOBSON. -  
But do they possess them in law? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
Personally, I think so. If they do not I should like to see the law that could be enforced compelling them to give it up. For all practical purposes I think we may agree, however much we may differ as to the reading of their legal rights that the absolute control of the Darling is in the hands of New South Wales. 
Mr. DOBSON. -  
So as to make the River Murray run dry? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
Suppose that New South Wales did make the river run dry, how are you to prevent them? In what court are you to sue them, to what code will you appeal, or who will enforce the verdict? I do not know. 
Mr. GORDON. -  
That is the right of the strong man to knock down the little man. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
It may be the right of the strong, but it is a strong right as between different nations, which we practically are. We are independent of each other, and have no more power to enforce on New South Wales the execution of an unpalatable decree in regard to anything in her territory than we have to enforce it on Russia. That fact may just as well frankly be realized. The question is whether this matter cannot be laid before the representatives of New South Wales in such a form that they may see it to be consonant with their duty as representatives and the interests of their colony to consent to the placing of some power in this Bill with regard to the future control of this federal river-of the Murray system, with regard to navigation, and with regard to irrigation. Let us safeguard, if it can be done, any special rights which New South Wales may conceive that she possesses. The task, I admit, is difficult, but at the same time we have submitted tasks almost as difficult to the Drafting Committee, and if we thoroughly thrash out the main principles without going into the details of this question it may yet be possible to embody, either in this clause or, if necessary, in some more qualified clause which may be placed in another part of the Bill, a provision by which, when the opportunity arises, and when further information has been obtained, the complete federal control of this river system can pass to Federated Australia, when New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia are satisfied that their interests are not to be prejudiced thereby. 
Mr. HIGGINS. -  
In view of the reasons given by Colonel Home in his report is not the New South Wales scheme for irrigation impossible? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
The report of Colonel Home is only known to me from a very brief newspaper extract, and I am not prepared to say yet whether the Government of New South Wales and their people are prepared to adopt that report without qualification or addition. 
Mr. GORDON. -  
It is confined to the Murrumbidgee only. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I am not even aware of that. What I am submitting is that it appears to me that we are entitled to put to this Convention-that is really to the representatives of New South Wales-the great advantages of every kind likely to be reaped by federal river control-federal control of its trade as preventing competition with the railways, federal control of navigation as enabling us to develop it best, and federal control of the whole system for the purpose of irrigation. This should prove, as it seems to me probable, for the greater benefit of all parties concerned in New South Wales. South Australia is called upon practically to make no sacrifice, and would reap a gain which is, under natural circumstances and apart from state rights, certainly due to her. Victoria would yield something and gain something, and remain about where she is, but New South Wales [44] would have to be satisfied that in yielding to federal control these tributaries which are now within her own control she would also gain. I have detained the committee longer than I proposed. The whole question appears to be the manner in which the representatives of New South Wales will regard this proposal. If they cannot see their way to safeguard the interests of their colony, if they cannot see their way with the information before them to accept this proposal at present, or some proposal of a similar nature, I would urge them to consider whether we could not place a separate clause in the Bill, having a contingent effect if necessary, so as to provide, on the people of New South Wales or their Government being satisfied that the schemes projected by the Federal Government would not be an injury to them, that it should be possible for the Federal Government to enter into the federal control of this great system. Some such federal control, I believe, would be an enormous enrichment to all Australia, and would foster the development of the interior. 
Mr. MCMILLAN. -  
IS the honorable member in favour of the amendment suggested by South Australia? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I am in favour of it as far as making it apply to all rivers for navigation, as is proposed by the complete amendment; but as to irrigation, I am in favour of it only to the extent I have mentioned. 
Mr. MCMILLAN. -  
Does the honorable member consider that this sub-section gives absolutely to the Federal Government the ownership of the waters of the rivers? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I have not considered all the proposals of the South Australian Parliament. 
Mr. REID. -  
It takes the use of the waters without paying the expense. 
Mr. BARTON. -  
What is the difference between taking away some of our waters and taking away some of our land? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
Exactly. 
Mr. KINGSTON. -  
But it is not your water. 
Mr. MCMILLAN. -  
Do the words "the use of the waters thereof" mean the absolute ownership of them? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I think that those are the widest possible words, and if they do not convey an absolute ownership confer all the practical title to them. I agree with the honorable member that these words imply most absolute control on the part of the Federal Government. The query put to me by one of the representatives of New South Wales is whether there should be any greater right in the Federal Government to take away her water than to take away her land. The scheme which I am suggesting is not met by that analogy, because water, unlike land, is not a fixed quantity. In Australia it is a very unfixed and indeterminate quantity indeed. It may be possible, by perfect regulation of the streams, to leave to New South Wales practically all the water which she now enjoys, or can enjoy, on an unimproved river, and yet by means of its improvement, while leaving her all that water, to give much greater security to navigation, and to provide a much larger quantity for irrigation lower down. By putting this river as a whole under federal control, it may he possible to satisfy New South Wales that, while she loses nothing, the community of South Australia and her own residents, as far as they are affected by navigation, will gain a great deal. I freely admit that-as it is New South Wales that is asked to make the sacrifice upon this subject-the request is one to which I, as a representative of Victoria, can make no reply. It must be answered by the representatives of New South Wales. But I am appealing to them to recognise the federal aspect of this question-to recognise that federal aspect as far as they possibly can in this Bill without jeopardizing the interests of their own colony; so that when at some future time, with more knowledge at their [45] command, they, or the people of New South Wales, can be satisfied that this federal control can be handed over to the Federal Parliament without serious loss to New South Wales, it may then be possible for the Federal Government to enter upon the control of this river scheme. That is what I am putting-no unreasonable demand, I think; but I feel that because New South Wales is the only colony that is asked to make a sacrifice in this matter, and is not yet prepared to make it, they should not shut the door on all future federal control of this great arterial system of Australia. It would be an immense gain to the continent as a whole if the river system could be federalized, if the federalizing of it could be effected without imperilling, the interests of New South Wales. 
Mr. DOBSON. -  
You speak of this water being in the legal possession of New South Wales. Can you point to any proclamation in which the Crown has given to one colony legal possession of a national river running through all Australia? 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I cannot; and I think I can with safety challenge the honorable member to cite authorities giving any right to any other colony to challenge it. 
Mr. BARTON. -  
We are granted territories within certain boundaries, and one of the boundaries is a river; and unless there is something to show to the contrary the water of that river is ours. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
So I should say, unless I can be shown instances where national riparian rights have been recognised between states in regard to a single stream. 
Mr. DOBSON. -  
I think you would have to show that the Crown granted to one colony the main artery flowing through three colonies. The onus lies upon you to show that. 
Mr. DEAKIN. -  
I confess to thinking that, in discussing the legal aspect, we should be opening up a question which, however interesting in itself from a professional point of view, we cannot pretend to settle authoritatively, and the discussion of which would lead to no practical gain. All we can do is to ask the representatives of New South Wales to consider this matter of river control in the most federal light, and to urge them to join with us in providing as far as possible, if not for the immediate, at all events for the contingent, federal control of, all the river systems of Australia whenever the Federal Parliament may deem that control necessary. 
<\4-418><\g=m><\o=a><\age=42><\status=2><\abode=nv><\p=vic><\r=spb><\tt=mi>

http://ns.ausnc.org.au/corpora/cooee/source/4-418#Raw