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4-422 (Text)

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Speaker:
addressee author,male,Lyne, William John,54
ns1:discourse_type
Oratory
Word Count :
5194
Plaint Text :
ns1:register
Speech Based
ns1:texttype
Minutes
ns1:localityName
http://dbpedia.org/resource/Victoria
Created:
1898
Identifier
4-422
Source
Federation Debates Melbourne, Jan 24
pages
95-102
Document metadata
Extent:
28080
Identifier
4-422-plain.txt
Title
4-422#Text
Type
Text

4-422-plain.txt — 27 KB

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Mr. LYNE. -  
I have not seen it. But I thought from what was stated, before we adjourned for lunch, that it was probable some suggestion would be made that might bring us nearer together. On this occasion I am extremely glad to find that the representatives of New South Wales are in harmony, and, I hope, unanimous, and I am very glad to be able on this question to support the Premier of New South Wales, a thing I do not very often do. 
Mr. PEACOCK. -  
Perhaps he is wrong now. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
No; I hardly think he is wrong now. I think that, for almost the first time, he is right. 
Mr. HIGGINS. -  
When you do agree your unanimity is wonderful. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
But let me impress upon the Convention that we have to consider many things in carrying out the work in which we are now engaged, and I think that not the least amongst those matters is the duty of preparing such a Bill as is likely to be acceptable to the people of these colonies. Now, in framing this Constitution Bill, I have thought from the onset that we were attempting to import into the measure too many matters and too many subjects, and, if the proposal made by the Hon. Mr. Gordon is going to be carried, it will be the forerunner, and I think it should be the forerunner, of taking over our lands, our railways, our debts, and everything else, and practically relieving the states altogether from all matters of serious state consideration. 
Mr. ISAACS. -  
Do your debts affect other colonies? 
Mr. LYNE. -  
No, I do not think they do; but I think that if all debts were taken over we would relieve the other colonies very considerably as far as their debts are concerned, because of our stability. 
Mr. HIGGINS. -  
We do not want your debts.  
Mr. TRENWITH. -  
That is because yours are the largest. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I mention this matter not because I should support any such proposal, but because I think the proposal is of such a vital character that, if it is carried, we should go still further. I hope it will not be carried. For the sake of seeing this Constitution Bill passed by each state, I hope that this proposal will not be carried, because I feel satisfied that even at the present time in New South Wales the advance which was made to South Australia at the tail-end of the session in Adelaide-that was, to give rights over the waters of the Murray from certain points-is not viewed very favorably. If we go further and give absolute rights, not only over the Murray, but also over the Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan, the Darling, and all the great tributaries which fall into those rivers-I think it is useless to say that if those rivers only are named it does not affect the large tributaries which fall into them. Why, sir, the Darling is supplied wholly or nearly wholly by large tributaries, some of them in channels larger than the channel of the Darling itself. At the head of the Darling you have the Warrego, the Paroo, the Biree, the Culgoa, the Macquarie, the Namoi, the Bogan, and a number of large rivers which go to make the channel of the Darling; not to make its channel only, but to throw their waters for a width of 50 miles, in flood-time, over the lands of our colony. My honorable friend (Mr. O'Connor) alarmed me somewhat when he gave his opinion of the immense power which was given over these rivers even by the proposal carried at Adelaide. If I understood him aright, he said that these rights extended, not only to the Murray, but to all the tributaries of the Murray. Every tributary I named just now is a tributary of the Murray. 
Mr. OCONNOR. -  
A tributary between certain points-a tributary between where it first forms the boundary between Victoria and New South Wales down to the sea; only that portion of it. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
Every river I named comes between those two points. 
Mr. OCONNOR. -  
No. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
Yes, from where the Murray first forms the boundary between New South Wales and Victoria-that is, up in the mountains-down to the sea. 
Mr. FRASER. -  
You are quite right. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I presume that definition was inserted because otherwise it would be from the boundary of the colony of New South Wales to the sea only, and it was intended to restrict, I take it, the power of the Federal Parliament over the Murray waters only in the channel of the Murray from its head to the sea. The honorable gentleman said that, in his opinion, that power was extended to every tributary of the Murray. If that opinion is correct, there is no necessity for this amendment, for that power already exists in the Bill. If that does exist, then I venture to say if it is definitely understood, and it must be definitely understood before this Bill is completed, it will not be satisfactory to the colony of New South Wales. As the president, for three years, of the Royal Commission on Water Conservation in New South Wales, I had something to do with the framing of a Riparian Rights Bill. The honorable member (Mr. Glynn) referred to the fact that a joint commission from Victoria and New South Wales reported to their respective Governments in favour of a combined commission to deal with the waters of the Murray. The honorable and learned member is somewhat in error. What did take place was that that Royal commission suggested that a joint commission should be appointed to take charge of the head-works on the head waters of the Murray. The reason why that suggestion was agreed to was that according to the Constitution Act of New South Wales, we have power over the bed of the river only to the Victorian bank. We have  no power whatever to put a spade or a shovel into the soil on the Victorian side of the river, and, therefore, we have no power to construct any works which would extend on to the Victorian side. Moreover, it was known at that particular time that the Victorian Government was very active in constructing works to divert a large portion of the main tributaries of the Murray-and the main tributaries of the Upper Murray come from the Victorian side-over various parts of the colony of Victoria for the purpose of water supply and irrigation, and it was thought by the two, at any rate by the New South Wales Commission, that that would have the effect of diverting into other channels a large quantity of water which then went down into the Murray channel, and which would thus be lost to the Murray River. Considering all the conditions as they were then, it was thought advisable that the Murray River only should be dealt with by a joint commission from the two colonies. It was upon that recommendation being made that a protest, or rather an attempt was made by South Australia to get her finger in the pie; and Sir Henry Parkes, who, I think, led the Government of New South Wales at that time, refused to agree to any proposal which would give South Australia the same right as Victoria or New South Wales with regard to the Upper Murray. The banks of all the channels to which I have referred other than the Murray belong solely to New South Wales. It is not a question of one side of the river belonging to Victoria or to South Australia, and of another side belonging to New South Wales. In the case of all these large tributaries on the New South Wales side they belong solely to New South Wales at the present time, cause they are within the territory of that colony. New South Wales has completed a great many works for the purpose of storing the water, of improving navigation, and of irrigating considerable patches of country. These rights exist now, and what this amendment desires to do is to take away a portion, if not the whole, of these rights, from New South Wales. 
Mr. SOLOMON. -  
Hardly that. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
It is that, and I will proceed to show as shortly as I can-and I think our speeches should be as short as reasonably they can be made-why I think that is the case. At the present moment, I think I am right in saying, the Murray is not navigable for a considerable portion of its course, and we all know that it is not navigable, nor, as a rule, is the Darling navigable, for more than three or four months in any year. If that is so now, and South Australia puts in a claim to have the whole of the water which is running into South Australia, because she says the Murray below the border would not be navigable, then that takes away rights, we have at the present time to divert any of that water which in a dry time is so useful and necessary in New South Wales. By doing that you take away the possibility of New South Wales obtaining to the fullest extent the use of the water for irrigation purposes. It was very wisely observed by the honorable and learned member (Mr. Symon) that it is possible that the question of irrigation will take precedence over the question of navigation. I entirely agree with his observation. 
An HONORABLE MEMBER. -  
He added-You can trust the Federal Parliament for that." 
Mr. LYNE. -  
If we cannot trust this Convention we must be careful as to how we trust the Federal Parliament. The Premier of New South Wales pointed out, I think with great force, that the people of the colonies are watching the action of this Convention as some kind of a forerunner of what they must expect from the Federal Parliament. 
Mr. SOLOMON. -  
If it was assured that it would have the same personnel you would all be in favour of it. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I am not sure of that. At any rate, I should be very cautious,  as regards this particular question, as to how far I would agree to allow the Federal Parliament to deal with it, at any rate for the time being; and by the term "time being" I mean this, that I think the people of these colonies have to gain confidence in the Federal Parliament, and in the course of a few years, if that Parliament should become a reality, the people of any state will be far more likely to hand over their rivers, or their railways, or their debts, should that Parliament act in a manner which they approve than they are at present, when they do not know quite what it is going to be, or how it is going to govern. 
Mr. ISAACS. -  
That is the case with everything. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
It is the case with everything, but I think there will very likely be more confidence in the course of a few years in the proposed Parliament than there is at this moment. The representatives of South Australia say they want the waters of the Murray to run into South Australia for navigation purposes, more particularly than for irrigation purposes. What takes place now, I understand, is that each year those persons who have lands fronting the Murray in South Australia anticipate the flood waters to irrigate and fertilize their lands. They may desire that these flood waters should not be interfered with, because they would lose the fertilization of the land which they now secure. Their representatives might go a step further in their argument. If at any time they make the channel to the sea navigable-I do not think it is navigable at present-they may say that they want the water to flow down the bed in sufficient volume to keep open that navigation. The great fault I have found in all the colonies hitherto has been that they have allowed so much of the valuable water of each state to flow to the sea, instead of utilizing it for irrigation purposes. On every river, when we have had a great flood, instead of utilizing the water, it is allowed to flow to the sea. It should be the object of every colony to utilize as much as it is possible to do. One gentleman has said that New South Wales has done nothing towards conserving the waters of the Darling, or trying to make that river navigable. It is not navigable, as I have said, except for perhaps three or four months in the year; but already New South Wales has attempted to make that river navigable by building one weir and lock, and it is intended to carry on this work, and I think it will be carried on to its junction with the Murray. By these means, instead of having a river which is navigable for only three or four months in the year, we may possibly have a river which will be navigable at all times, by storing the flood waters in such volume as to give depth. 
Mr. FRASER. -  
No. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
Yes, I think it is quite possible. By doing that we do not in any way injure the flow of the river into the channel in South Australia. In fact, I think that instead of doing so we are likely to keep up that flow to a more standard level than it is kept up to at the present time, because the more the water conserved in and near the various channels in flood-time the more water will flow down the river at a dry time. I do not think, therefore, the South Australian delegates need have any fear that we are likely to injure the navigation of the river. But, as was truly said by Mr. Carruthers, this question is so bound up with our land legislation, and with the improvement of the lands in our colony, that the fact cannot and must not be ignored by any of the delegates from New South Wales, and I hope that fair treatment will also be accorded to that aspect of the question by the delegates from the other colonies. Mr. Carruthers said that it was a case of a divorce taking place between the water and the land, and so it is, because in our  arid country we have land good enough for purposes of production; but in the western parts of our colony it is useless, except during a good season, unless we can utilize the waters to a greater extent than we have been doing in the past. 
Mr. HIGGINS. -  
What about the sunshine? 
Mr. LYNE. -  
We have that too, and we do not thank South Australia or any of the other colonies for it. 
Mr. HIGGINS. -  
You do not appropriate it. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
We do appropriate it, and it assists us very much. I may tell honorable members that a suggestion has been already made-and I do not think it will be long before it is carried out-under which something like £2,000,000 will be appropriated towards conserving the water at the head of the Darling and along its channels. In addition to that, what we desire to have free power to do is to divert the flood waters, perhaps for 50 or 100 miles, from the Darling, on each side, into the depressions that exist in that vast and country. The Government of the day have done but little in this respect, but private enterprise in some parts has done a great deal. I will just give one instance of this. There are two stations belonging to Mr. Tyson down on the Lachlan near its junction with the murrumbidgee, and some years ago, in a very primitive way, he diverted a part of the Lachlan waters through a dry channel-in fact, he either deepened or made the channel most of the way-40 or 50 miles into the arid back country, where he was unable to keep stock until be carried out that work. In one depression alone, which I saw myself, he created a lake which at most times is 60 feet deep. Are we to be deprived of all the rights we have to do such useful work as this? Because, unless we can utilize the water in this way a great part of our colony will remain unproductive, or practically unproductive, as it has been in the past. 
Mr. HIGGINS. -  
Does the water get back into the main current afterwards or remain there? 
Mr. LYNE. -  
Some of it will get back but a great deal remains. Of course where you fill up those immense basins it must remain or it is of no use. 
Mr. HIGGINS. -  
If that would stop navigation do you think it is fair? 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I do not think it will have any effect on navigation, as it can only be done in time of flood or half-flood. 
Mr. HIGGINS. -  
Then the Federal Parliament would allow it. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
We can do it now, and we do not want any Federal Parliament to interfere with our doing what is of infinite use to our colony. That is only one instance of the manner in which the waters in flood-time are and should be utilized. There are many schemes extending right up to the heads of the Darling to carry on this system to a very large extent, and it cannot interfere with the flow of the river at any particular time. It is only when the river is very low-lower than it is at present-that any complaint can possibly be made. At this moment there is one place on the Murrumbidgee where the river is not more than 10 feet wide-between Hay and Narrandera-and the stream is scarcely running at all. Now, if we give up our present power, no one could use the waters of the Murrumbidgee under such circumstances, as the whole of the present stream is required to flow down into South Australia. I do not think that Mr. Gordon, in his speech, which I have read, although I had not the pleasure of hearing it, showed one case of a Constitution containing the power which he desires to place in this Constitution. 
Mr. GORDON. -  
No other country has the same imperious necessity that we have to provide for this. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I do not think that this is the only dry country in the world; I think there are other countries where they require to use the small supply of water they  possess to the very best advantage, and I challenge the honorable member to show one instance where there is imported into the Constitution of any country the power he is trying to give the Federal Parliament here. 
Mr. GORDON. -  
The same might be said of a number of powers we are incorporating in this Constitution. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I said just now that I think we are incorporating too many powers. The honorable member quoted some writers as to the moral right of those states below other states to get the full force and full supply of water which should come to them, but in no case-not in Canada, in the United States, or in any other country-can I find, or has he shown, the existence of the power which he is trying to import into this Constitution. You are proposing to do something that we have had no experience of at all in the history of the world. 
Mr. GLYNN. -  
In the Californian Constitution there is a similar power as between individuals. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
That law exists in each state in Australia now as regards individuals. If one individual on a watercourse above another attempts to take away the right of the water flowing to the second individual, of course he can be prevented by law from doing so. 
Mr. GLYNN. -  
Is not what is fair as between individuals fair as between one colony and another? 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I do not think the honorable member is putting the matter very fairly, because in the colony of South Australia you have the Murray channel only-you have no tributaries. You have a 
Mr. GLYNN. -  
Oh yes. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
It may be so, but I never heard of it. That being the case, there is very little danger of any such course being taken by the state higher up as would reduce the river below navigation level. But I would like to point out to honorable members that there is a very important factor to which I referred at the outset; it is this-Supposing you import this proposal into the Bill, and you lose federation as a consequence, are you better off for carrying it than you would be by allowing matters to remain as they are and getting federation of some sort? It has been stated that it is possible to make a compromise. I myself cannot see that it is possible to make any compromise in this respect that would not give power to interfere with the supply of water that would be available for irrigation purposes. And if it is not possible to make a compromise that would prevent the interference with water for irrigation purposes, it is not possible to make a compromise at all. 
Mr. DOBSON. -  
The Federal Parliament would not interfere improperly; it would give you ample justice. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
That may be so, but the people of New South Wales, at the present time, do not know that it would be so, and their votes would be likely to be out against a proposal which would make this a matter to be controlled by the Federal Parliament. They know what their rights are now; they do not know what they might be then. Now, I would like to say one word with reference to an interjection which I made when Mr. Symon was speaking and which I do not think he took in the spirit in which it was intended. He was stating that the proposal did not desire to take away a right which now exists, and I made an interjection to show that we have is New South Wales, as you have in Victoria, the right to deal with, or use for irrigation purposes, any water flowing through our territory. I said that if there was an attempt at interference at the present moment by any of the other states with that right, it would very soon be proved what our rights were,  and I say now that if you do not desire to 
take away any rights that exist at the present moment you do not desire to interfere with irrigation or with the diversion of water in any possible way. We can in the colony of New South Wales divert water from the Namoi, from the Darling, from any of the branches I have referred to, from the Lachlan, from the Murrumbidgee, or from the Murray. If you insert this provision in the Constitution the state of New South Wales will not have that power. 
Mr. ISAACS. -  
If you apply that principle to every subject there could be no Federal Constitution at all. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I am now only arguing in answer to the remarks of Mr. Symon. He said he did not intend, or the South Australian delegates did not intend, to take away any right which exists at the present time, but they cannot possibly introduce a proposal of this kind without taking away a very strong right which exists, and one of those rights which are the life-blood of our colony as far as increasing its production is concerned. We have added practically a new state to New South Wales in the discovery and development of artesian water supply. Every one who knows anything of the interior of our colony knows what a great boon that has been to us, but it is not sufficient to develop our colony to the extent that it will stand development, or to which it should be developed, and we want the flood waters for utilization to a greater extent than the artesian water can be utilized. I admit that this question of irrigation is one which must grow. It cannot be carried out in a day or in a week. It must be years before it will grow to that stage when it will be utilized to the fullest extent, and it would be an unwise thing to attempt to do more than to let it grow in the manner I have described. But what has Queensland to say to this? Queensland has not, I regret to say, joined this Convention, but the waters that are attempted to be attacked in New South Wales extend into Queensland. The heads of the Darling run very far into Queensland-up to Toowoomba, and north up to the range which divides the Gulf waters from the southern waters. That being so, do you think we are not now doing something towards preventing Queensland from coming into the Federation at some future date? If we frame, a proper Constitution and agree to federate, Queensland must come in, and I have no doubt will come in in a few years, if not at first. But you are now proposing to take a right over these waters of that colony, whose necessities are similar to those of New South Wales, and, in doing that, you are adding something to the Convention Bill which will assist to keep Queensland from joining the Federation. I agree with my honorable friend (Mr. Barton) in what he has said, and I think the Right Hon. Mr. Reid has also said the same. It is not intended, I believe, to interfere with commerce in any way-with the commerce between the colonies. In New South Wales we have never placed a toll or a preferential duty on the steamers plying into South Australia or into Victoria, in order to keep the trade to our own colony, although I admit that a considerable amount of trade has been taken from our railways along the Upper Darling through the navigation of the Darling and the Murray being kept open by New South Wales. 
Mr. GLYNN. -  
A proposal was suggested in 1893 in the report of Mr. McKinney. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
A proposal was once suggested in Parliament, but was not carried, and we must only judge from what was done. If there are to be no preferential rates on our railways, and if we are to have inter-colonial free-trade, it would be a most unjust thing to attempt to wage a war of tariffs on our rivers when we did not wage such a war on our railways. 
Mr. DOBSON. -  
I do not think you could do it legally.  
Mr. LYNE. -  
We can do it now. 
Mr. DOBSON. -  
I do not think so. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
We can put a differential rate on our railways. 
Mr. DOBSON. -  
But not a toll on a navigable river. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I am not a lawyer, but lawyers will support me, I think, in saying that there is no law to prevent New South Wales from putting a differential toll on the Murray, or at any rate on the Darling. 
Mr. SOLOMON. -  
That shows the absolute necessity for Mr. Gordon's amendment. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
I am trying to show that there is no necessity for it at all, because this has never been done, although we have power at present to do it. 
Mr. SOLOMON. -  
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds - Makes ill deeds done. 
Mr. LYNE. -  
We have gone to considerable expense in opening the water-ways as highways of commerce, but we have never up to the present time attempted to put any differential rates on any water-way. The honorable member intends to include the Lachlan in his proposal. It has been said before-and as I have some particular acquaintance with the Lachlan I can say that it is true-that the Lachlan never has been navigable. It has never been used as a navigable stream, and you could never make it navigable unless you made a canal 10 miles long from the Murrumbidgee to the deeper waters of the Lachlan, and then you would have to snag the river and make it deeper before you could make it navigable. I emphatically say that, as far as I can judge, it would be a very great blot upon the Constitution, and a hindrance to the acceptance of the Convention Bill when it is framed, if you embodied in it a provision of this sort. It has been said that you only want to take rights which the Imperial Government have now. But, sir, I should like to know whether the Imperial Government would attempt in any way-they never have attempted-to dictate whether we should be allowed to take certain waters from the rivers for irrigation purposes, or be restricted to a certain supply, or whether we should make certain rivers navigable or not? I venture to think that the Imperial Government would never think for a moment of attempting to do anything of the kind. One word as to the Inter-State Commission. I do not think that we have yet decided what the powers of that commission shall be. There is a great diversity Of opinion as to whether the Inter-State Commission should have full power and sway over the whole of our railways regarding differential rates-I do not say preferential rates; I think they should have power over preferential rates; I cannot see any objection to the Inter-State Commission having power over our preferential rates only. But if you carry this amendment the result will be to place the rivers of the whole of the colonies under the Inter-State Commission, as well as the railways of the colonies. I venture to hope that the proposal will not be carried out, and that the good sense of this Convention will be such that it will allow this Bill to go to the people of New South Wales, and the people of the other states, in such a form that it is likely to be acceptable to them. But if you insert this provision in the Bill, I do not think it will be acceptable. I believe that New South Wales will stand out altogether. Surely South Australia will not desire that; and that being so, I trust that the Convention will permit the Bill to remain in such a form as will cause it to be acceptable to the people of the largest state of the group. 

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