Speaking in the House of Representatives recently on the Aid to Public Works and Land Settlement Bill, our member, Mr J. A. Hanan, spoke out strongly and well in favcw ji Southland’s just claims in regard to railway matters. He also speaks in no uncertain tone in regard to Lawrence-Roxburgh. line, and we cannot do better than publish his remarks in full ;
‘‘As regards Southland, take railways : what has been the position ? We have one railway—the Seaward Bush line—which has been under construction for years. While it has been in progress other lines have been authorised, with the result that a certain amount of money has been going for the completion of new lines, and which ought to have been retained to complete lines long authorised and urgently needed, such as the Seaward Bush extension. That is a line which, so far as it has been opened, is paying now and will pay when it is completed, unlike any other lines which are under construction and which have been handed over to the present Government by other Governments, but which will never pay for years. Reference has been made to one now line —the Roxburgh line—and 1 am pleased to hear honounable members condemning it. I know that line, and I have no hesitation in saying that the expenditure upon it is most unjustifiable. The route should not have gone in its present direction. According - to a report some time ago. and which was placed before the House, it should have been carried by way of Edievale. As a matter of fact, it was first authorised for construction from Edievalo to Roxburgh, and a section has been made. The route recently has been changed, and it is now going via Lawrence, with the result that it will bo many years before the railway - will pay interest on the cost of construction. As far as Southland is .concerned, all the money That has been spent on railways has been amply justified by results. With respect to the Orepuki railway line-, it is one that has everything to commend it. We are not asking. like oilier localities, for a network of railways to be made all over the province. What we do ask is that these lines should be speedily pushed on to completion, and that the necessary' roads should be made to enable the settlers to g - ot their produce carried to the market- It seems to me that as regards railways and roads most members simply consider (heir own districts, utterly regardless of the interests of the colony as a whole*. They do not care where the money comes from, so long as they get votes for their districts. I do not. of course, put all the blame on those- members’. Their constituents are ever urging them to secure
grants for their electorates. Sir, though it is. not a pleasant task for the Premier to perform, he has done his duty in resisting some of the claims that have been made this session for voles for new railways, etc., and so keep down public expendilure, for 1 hold that this clamouring for railways all over the country must be put a slop to, If we had adopted the principle of betterment in connection with railway construction we should not have so many 'demands from all parts of the Colony for ihe construction of railways. The betterment principle is a fair oner There is no reason why those whose properties are benefited should not contribute their fair share towards the work —the railway that increases their viable. As it is the business of the colony find the money, and they do not receive the return they ought to in view of the increased value given to properties through which the railways pass. Another point which I would like to emphasise relates to the railway motive power of the colony. The day is fast approaching, I hope, when we will have electric traction instead of steam-power. All the signs of the limes point to the conclusion that electric traction is the traction of the future, and that at no distant date there will be a universal relegation of steam as a railway motive power to the dark ago of science. In Victoria they have in view the conversion of steam into electric traction. In Germany and America steam railways are doomed. In Ohio and Indiana passenger electric trains with Pullman and sleeping cars, travel from fifty to sixty miles an hour throughout the States. As a matter of fact, all -advanced countries are now considering schemes to convert steam into electricity.
and there is no reason why in this progressive country we should not endeavour to keep pace with the times in which we live, and adopt up-to-date methods of traction in connection with our railway transit. I am also pleased to notice that it is the intention of the Minister for Railways to bring into existence a railway motor car system in some parts of the colony. According to the Chairman of the Great Western Railway Company of England, the railway motor traffic showed an increase of 394,595 miles. The system was very popular, and the Company was urgently asked to extend it. In the opinion of the chairman o'f another company the system had been a great success, and the cost of working had been 60 per cent, less than when compared with an ordinary branch line. 1 hope to see a service of this nature adopted in many parts of the colony. Reference has been made to the question of local selfgovernment ; and here, by the way, let me say that those members who are so strongly urging a system of local self-government, or the need for it, like the leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Wakatipu, are very careful not to formulate any scheme or to suggest on what lines that reform should take place. The leader of the Opposition simply made the bald-statement, or indulges in the usual platitude, that we should have a Local Government Rill, but he is very careful to avoid suggesting what form it should take, knowing it is a very difficult and intricate problem to solve. But, even if we had a system of local self-gov-ernment that would not get rid of borrowing for certain purposes. Of course, under a proper system of local self-government we might have the question of roads and bridges taken out of our hands, but still certain Stale functions have to be carried out. Sir, recognising the importance of railway construction and the necessity for roads and for telegraphic extension, I have pleasure in supporting the second reading of the Bill."
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Political, Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 18, 17 August 1907
Political Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 18, 17 August 1907
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