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COPY of a DESPATCH from Lieutenant Governor Sir H. E. F. YOUNG to the
(No. 30) MY LORD DUKE,
Adelaide, March 25, 1854. (Received June 12, 1854.)
HAVING observed in the public newspapers, that a deputation representing gentlemen in London interested in the very important and useful public work of establishing by an association of private capitalists, railway communication between Sydney and Melbourne, have solicited your Grace's official support to the project, and that it is to be referred to the local authorities of New South Wales and Victoria for report, I have the honour, on behalf of the colony of South Australia, to submit that the proposed undertaking requires a more comprehensive character to be given to it, and instead of being confided to private speculators, is eminently entitled to be promoted and directed by the Imperial Government, as well on account of the interests of the actual Australian public, as on behalf of that still larger number of British subjects, who are rapidly emigrating to this prosperous portion of Her Majesty's dominions.
2. The extension of the project which I feel it my duty to propose is, that the railway connect Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne, and not be confined to only two of the capitals of three closely related and conterminous colonies.
3. The manner in which I propose that the Imperial Government should promote and direct the undertaking is, by guaranteeing a loan for its construction, the interest of which should be payable by and be chargeable on the general revenue of South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria, either in proportion to the length of railway passing through each colony, or in some other ratio to the amount of the actual or estimated outlay, or advantage of each colony, and that Imperial Commissioners should be appointed to direct and control the expenditure of this loan, and to receive in trust, for the purpose of creating a fund for the ultimate redemption of the loan, waste lands of the Crown on both sides of the railway for a distance of ten miles, and to cause the same to be gradually sold at public auction, according to the existing law regulating the sale of waste lands of the Crown; and of the proceeds of the said sales to apply one half in the introduction of labour into the colony, and the other moiety to be carried to account of the fund for eventually redeeming the railway loan.
4. Under the plan which received the sanction of Her Majesty's Government in the case of the railway from Halifax to Quebec, there would be conferred on these colonies, without charge on the Imperial revenues, the very great advantage of obtaining a loan on easier terms than would be possible were the credit and resources of the colonies applied to the borrowing of money without the guarantee of the Imperial Parliament.
5. Estimating the cost of the undertaking at ten millions, for the one thousand miles of railway necessary to connect Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne, the difference between the colonies raising the amount with or without the guarantee of Parliament would probably not be less than two per cent.; the guarantee would therefore be equivalent to a grant from the Home Government of not less than two hundred thousand pounds per annum.
6. Ten miles of waste Crown lands on each side of a line of railway 1000 miles in length would amount to 12,800,000 acres, and the price which would be obtained for them at public auction, in the certain prospect of being intersected by a railway connecting the three Australian capitals, would, with the profits of the railway, suffice to liquidate the loan. It would of course be necessary that at any part of the line through the three colonies where, from alienations already effected, tenmiles of waste Crown lands do not exist, the deficient quantity should be supplied by additions to the reserves of land on some other part of the line. Until the liquidation of the loan should be accomplished, the three colonies would be required, and would, it is presumed, be very cheerfully disposed to bear the annual charge of the interest of the loan of ten millions, which if raised, as it might be under the guarantee of Parliament, at three per cent., borne rateably by each of the three colonies, would be but a light burden in return for so important a benefit as railway communication between Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne.
7. There may probably be some doubt as to whether at present a railway between Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne would have a goods and passenger
traffic sufficiently extensive to be remunerative as a commercial speculation to
The direct and immediate benefit would be that the annual charge of interest on the loan would be comparatively small to each colony; in South Australia probably not more than the present annual expenditure on metalled roads; and the redemption of the loan is ensured by the value to be obtained from the improvement of the waste lands. The prospective advantages would result from the facilities which this grand trunk railway would give to the plantation of additional settlements in the vast vacant spaces of this great continent, and from the preservation to the public, as a means of providing extended communication for a rapidly spreading population, of all that valuable railway property and public domain; which, retained by the Government, would be available as public policy might dictate, but which, if monopolized by private speculators, would not be used with the same zeal and disinterestedness for the good of the community.
8. Another motive of great weight in favour of the construction and retention of the railway between Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne by the Government on behalf of the Australian public, is, that it would be both practicable and politic under such a system to permit the several communities to have the joint use of the railway on terms far lower and cheaper than could ever be expected by the colonies as a concession from a private company, naturally influenced solely by the desire to realize the earliest and largest profits from their com mercial speculation.
The Government, on the contrary, as proprietors and trustees on behalf of the public of the vast extent of the yet unsold lands of Australia, may well extend their views to the future, and consider of the enhanced value of this immense property, consequent on the occupation of the land, the spread and increase of the population.
I am indebted to Mr. Justice Boothby, who has recently brought to Adelaide much practical knowledge of the subject, especially in reference to the original proposals for the establishment of the Halifax and Quebec Railway, for some calculations and other interesting information which indicate that, in some analogy with the modern Post Office reform, the principle of equal fixed rates along an entire trunk line of railway connecting Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne, having no competition to fear, and no aims of direct commercial profit to realize, would adequately sustain this great Australian highway, although such low and equal rates might be insufficient to meet the expectations of commercial speculators, and however unprofitable the establishment of such low rates would be, even by any Government, unless possessing or representing the immense territorial interests which belong to the Australian public. I annex Mr. Justice Boothby's suggestions on railways in Australia.
It will be observed that the project suggested in this Despatch is not so extensive as that sketched by Mr. Justice Boothby; the amount of capital I propose is by one half less than that which he mentions; the quantity of land to be applied to railway purposes is much less; and the providing of harbour and dock accommodation I would prefer leaving to the enterprise of each separate colony, apart from the proposed joint railway.
9. I would beg to add that, to ensure freedom from local interests or prejudices which might militate against the best and most direct line being determined on between Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne; to ensure expedition and efficiency of work; and to provide for the due and economical application of the loan which the Imperial Government is asked to guarantee, it seems very essential that commissioners should be appointed by the Crown to carry out the entire undertaking, and to be trustees for the sale of the reserved lands along the line of railway; and that a report, with accounts of expenditure duly audited, should be periodically rendered and published.
In the appointment of commissioners by the Crown, it would, of course, be desirable that the executive governments of the several colonies, responsible to the local Legislature, should be consulted.
It would seem not unreasonable to expect that, with the supply of labour which the commissioners would have the means of importing (without interfering with the existing scanty supply of labour now in the colonies), and considering how much of the permanent way and rolling stock would be also imported, it
Encl. in No. 7.
would be feasible to execute two hundred miles of railway per annum, and thus the whole undertaking might be completed in five years from its commencement, a period of time not in itself great, but which is not brief enough to make the progress of local improvement as rapid as the progress of population.
10. In conclusion, I respectfully submit the foregoing as the suggestion of a plan which I hope may receive your Grace's consideration in any project for a railway to connect the three capital cities of Australia which seeks the sanction of Her Majesty's Government.
It is, of course, essential to the plan that the governments of New South and Victoria should concur in the measure, and that they should propose any modification of the details which their peculiar position may render advisable.
11. A copy of this Despatch, which has received the concurrence of my Executive Council, will be transmitted to Sydney and Melbourne, in order that no unnecessary delay may occur in making known to your Grace, from thence, the views of the governors and executive councils of these colonies.
In the event of the general approval of the plan by the neighbouring local governments, and in the event of your Grace consequently obtaining the guarantee of Parliament to a loan for constructing a railway between Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne, there can be no doubt that the respective local Legislatures, thus moved to concur in the undertaking, will readily enact whatever local legislation is necessary to secure to Australia so important a boon.
It would, indeed, much simplify and expedite proceedings in the colonies on this most important subject, if your Grace wonld be pleased to direct that there shall be forwarded to each of them drafts of the local Acts necessary to be passed in Australia, and which, if passed and confirmed, would ensure the early introduction into Parliament of an Act to guarantee the Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne railway loan.
The Duke of Newcastle,
I have, &c.
H. E. F. YOUNG.
Enclosure in No. 7.
SUGGESTIONS as to the Construction of Railways and Docks in Australia.
1. Such public works to be treated as national, and, therefore, to be carried out by the combined action of the Imperial Government, and the provinces of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
2. The railway to consist of a grand trunk line, having three termini, viz., at Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, and the terminal station at each city to be alongside a dock, capable of floating the largest class of ocean steamers and ships; the railway and each of such docks to be under one central management.
3. A capital of twenty-one millions for the construction of such works to be raised by loan in England, to be advanced at the rate of three millions per year for seven years, secured by the guarantee of the Imperial Government, and to be repaid in twenty years, but not sooner.
4. The proceeds of this loan to be vested by Act of the Imperial Parliament, and also of each of the three provinces of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, in a board of commissioners, to be styled the Australian Board of Railway Commissioners, and consist of a chairman and twelve commissioners.
The chairman and two commissioners to be appointed by the Imperial Government; the surveyor general and commissioner of Crown lands of each province for the time being to be ex-officio commissioners; and the Legislative Council of each province to appoint each one commissioner, who shall be a member of the Legislative Council; such board to have the entire and uncontrolled management of the construction of such railway and docks, and thereafter of working the same.
5. Such board of commissioners to have vested in them by the said Acts all the vacant Crown lands on each side of every mile of railway, to the extent of fifteen miles, wherever vacant lands are found; and where vacant lands do not exist, any deficient quantity to be made up by a greater amount taken from each side of other portions of the railway, but the whole quantity of land to be so vested not to exceed twenty thousand acres for every mile of railway so constructed.
The board of commissioners to have the uncontrolled right of selecting the course of the line and the situation of the railway docks and termini; but their powers not to extend beyond the construction of a line of railway as direct as possible between Sydney and Adelaide, and a further line to connect the city of Melbourne with these other cities, by a junction line at a point near Swan Hill, together with docks and warehouses at and near each city.
6. The tariff of passenger fares to be at one uniform rate for any distance exceeding 200 miles, but other uniform rates to be charged for the respective distances as follows: Exceeding 100 miles, and not exceeding 200 miles.
and for any distance not exceeding eight miles, one uniform rate.
The charge for carriage of agricultural produce, minerals, imports, &c., to be at one uniform rate, whatever distance carried; but a lower uniform rate to be charged for any distance not exceeding twenty-five miles.
Hay and straw, 50,000 tons, at 10s.
7. The money arising from the sale or lease of crown lands vested in such board (such sales or leases to be by public auction, at minimum rates to be provided for in the several Acts of Parliament), together with the profits arising from the working of the railway and from dock charges, to form a fund for the payment
1st, Of the interest of the loan in England.
2nd. For the creation of a sinking fund for the repayment of the loan at the expiry
8. On the extinction of such loan the profits of such railway and docks to be distributed to the government of each province, by a rateable proportion, according to the length of railway constructed in each.
9. The contracts for constructing the line to be advertised in each province, and in Great Britain and Ireland, and in the provinces of British North America, and as a part of the cost of construction such advertisements to notify that the contractors will be allowed a sufficient sum to cover the cost of passage of each navigator, artizan, and mechanic landed in the colonies, under an agreement to work for any contractor for a term of seven years, and also for the passage of the wife and children of any such person. Every contract made by such Board of Commissioners to provide for the work not to be commenced until proof is made that the number of such persons specified in any contract are within the colony and ready to proceed with the works. The number of such persons named in every contract to be adequate to its completion within the time specified.
10. The Acts of Parliament to be passed by the Imperial Parliament and by the three provinces respectively to create a charge on the revenue of each province, in case the lands vested in the Board of Railway Commissioners shall not be sufficient to meet the annual charge for interest on such loan, and for the repayment of the money borrowed, such deficiency so often as it may arise, to be made good by a rateable contribution from each province, according to the length of railway constructed in each.
11. An equal length of the line of railway to be constructed in each province in every year, commencing at their respective cities, and the docks at each city to be formed simultaneously.
COST OF CONSTRUCTION.
1000 miles of railway to connect Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide.
Docks and warehouses in connexion with the terminal station of each
Interest of capital during construction of works at the rate of 3 per
Wheat and all other cereals, 3,000,000 quarters, at 4s.
Wocl, 200,000 bales, at 58.
Tallow, hides, skins, bones, horns, hoofs, &c., 20,000 tons, at 27.
Firewood, 500,000 tons, at 58.
Imports, 500,000 tons, at 27.
Ditto, carried not more than 25 miles, 500,000 tons, at 58.
Building materials, including timber in bulk and sawn, palings, shingles
ESTIMATE OF TRAFFIC on an assumed total population of one million and a half, in the
Fat sheep and pigs, 400,000, at 1s.
Saddle horses and carriages travelling with passengers, 15,000, at 208.
Potatoes, vegetables, and fruit, dairy produce and poultry
Copper and lead ores, 10,000, at 21.
Mails and parcels
Passengers, 14 millions, at 10s.
Emigrants carried any distance, 50,000 at 10s.
Working Expenses. 75 per cent.
Revenue from docks and warehouses the charges being regulated so as
Total revenue per annum
Or nearly equal to five per cent. on twenty-one millions.