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THE TRANS- AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY.

The Resolutions in the Assembly.

By last mail the news went home that the Hon. A. Blyth had tabled in the House of Assembly the following resolutions :— 1. 'That a railwav from Port Augusta to

Port Darwin would materially conduce to the prosperity of this province. 2. That with a view of promoting the formation of such railway, it is expedient tuat a Bill be introduced providing for the granting of blocks of land to be situated alternately on the east and west sides of the line, and comprising on the whole acres: such land not to include any at present held either, in freehold or on leasehold. 3. That an address be presented to His Excellency the Governor, transmitting a copy of the foregoing resolutions, and praying His Excellency to recommend this House to make provision by Bill for carrying out the said resolutions.' The Assembly on April 24 devoted an evening sitting to the question of the pro posed railroad. The majority of the members agreed, after a long preliminary discussion, to treat the resolutions very much as a matter of form, and to defer the real debate until the Bill was upon the files of the House. The only outand out opposition to this course — which, to say the least of it, is quite as convenient as any other— was that offered by Messrs. Carr and Ward, who are impressed with the idea that the gigantic scheme for running iron rails across the continent is a gigantic bubble, which ought to be exploded with as little delay as possible. It is true that the last named member proposed that communication should be opened up with the neighbouring colonies before anything was done; but that, of course, was tantamount to recommending a rejection of the project. Many forcible arguments were brought forward against the

resolutions; out it was lelt that tne tune was inopportune for replying to them, or entering elaborately into the subject. At the instance of Mr. Pearce amendments were made, which left the matter in. a very bald state. The House committed itself to the general opinion that the construction of a railway across the con tinent upon the principle of a land endow ment was a desirable thing; but it went no further. The termini were struck out; the quantity of land to be granted was struck out ; but enough of the motion was left to authorize the immediate presenta tion of a Bill. The third resolution was omitted altogether. The Assembly has acted wisely in declining to pledge itself to other than generalities until it has more informa tion before it. Introduction of the Bill. The Bill was laid on the table of the Assembly by the Hon. A. Blyth on April 30. Its clauses, which number less than twenty, add little that is material to the information heretofore made public re specting this great undertaking. Nothing is said as to the way in which the money for the carrying out of the work is to be raised, or as to how the land ceded to the promoters is to be utilized. The granting of the endow ment is to close the connection between the Government and the Company, excepting so far as the general oversight of the construc tion operations is concerned. The State is to be relieved of all responsibility in re ference to the financial part of the scheme, and the Company is not to be accountable to it for the manner in which it employs tbe immense patrimony placed at its disposal. The first clause of the Bill empowers the Government to contract with a Com pany now formed, and called the Port Augusta and Port Darwin Railway Com pany, Limited, for the construction of a line between the ports named in its title. The second constitutes the members of that Company promoters of the railway, and requires of them that they shall within five years procure, either by themselves or by some other person or body of persons, the capital necessary for the line, which is to be completed and open for public traffic within fourteen years from the expiry of the five years above mentioned. During the proba tionary term the country is to be surveyed and plans deposited in the Survey Office, the penalty for non-performance of these pre liminaries being the forfeiture of the deposit lodged with the Government, the amount of which is not, so far as we have been able to see from a hasty perusal of the Bill, fixed. The third clause deals with the gauge and with the weight of the rails, but judiciously omits to mention the figures, ?which will of course be supplied after the prin ciple of the measure has been affirmed. It is specified that passenger trains shall run from end to end of the line at least twice a month, the rate of speed to be not less than twelve miles an hour ; that locomotive engines shall be employed ; and that goods trains may be put on at the discretion of the Company. The fourth section directs that the charges shall in no case exceed those at present in force in the province ; the fifth authorizes the Government on special emergencies to obtain express mail trains by paying for them ; the sixth enacts that in case of war or civil commotion the resources of the rail way are to be, if required, handed over to the Government ; the seventh empowers the Company, during the progress of their works, to use the Overland Telegraph free of charge;; the eighth relieves them ironi the necessity of erecting fences ; and the ninth includes the ordinary covenants for keeping the railway in a good and efficient state of repair. The tenth clause, providing for the grant of land, runs thus : — 'The said Company shall be entitled to a grant of the land traversed by the said railway for a breadth of four chains ; and. further, to grants of the blocks of land specified and de scribed in the schedule hereinafter contained, and such grants shall be of such lands in fee simple, and shall be made from time to time, as the construction of the said railway progresses either from its northern cr southern extremity or from both, if the Company ah-tll deem it ex pedient to commence such construction from both ends:- Provided that no such grant shall be made of any such block until the e a tiro railway frontage thereto is completed, ready for traffic :. Provided also that all roads, water reserves, and crossings shall be reserved and kept open over and through the said, railway and lands at such distances as the natural traffic of the country m&y require, and fui may be certified as so ne cessary as aforesaid' by notice to the Cpnvjany, ''- given by the Surreyor-General of tbe* said province, while the said line o£ lailvay is in courso of construction.' _ ?- . / , ,, ^ ? Ko mention is made io t\ia clause of. the sggregato' grant of/ laud, required by the

promoters as an encouragement to further action, but in the schedule the quantity is set forth in detail. By the eleventh section pro vision is made for certain reserves of no great extent; by the twelth the powers under the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act are con ferred upon the Company; by the thirteenth the rights of the Crown are saved; by the fourteenth authority is vested in the Gover nor upon the addresses of the two Houses to cancel the agreement on the ground of breach of its conditions; and by the fifteenth full power is given to the Com pany to arrange for the connection of their ine with existing Government railways, and for the formation of branches to Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. It will be perceived from this digest that there is very little in the Bill to aid members of the House, who declined discussing the question at its preliminary stage, in coming to a satisfactory conclusion upon the merits of the scheme. If the area of land asked for is to be granted, some care will have to be exercised in the laying out of the alternate blocks. It will never do to adopt the hap hazard mode of definition which we are led to believe has been resorted to in framing the schedule attached to the Bill. This schedule will be found below, and those who take the trouble to compare it with the map will we believe find that one of the thirty-five blocks includes the mouth of the Roper, and another the mouth of the Victoria River. It has been explained that the schedule in its-present form is not intended to be in any way binding, and it must certainly be understood that the colony is not prepared to divest itself of the control and ownership, not only of the mouths, but of the navigable portions of the principal streams watering the Northern Territory. Schedule.— Blocks to be Granted. 1. Bounded on the south by S. lat. 30° 15', on the north by S. lat. 29° 35', on the west by E. long. 137° 35', and on the east by a line from lat. 29° 35' E., long. 137° 50' to lat. 30' 15', long. 138° 15', containing about 1,400 square miles. 2. Bounded on the south by 30° S. lat., on the west and east by the 136'35th and tho 137th meridians of E. long, respectively, and on the north by the proposed railway line, containing about 1,000 square miles. 3. Bounded on the west by the 137° E. long., on the east by thel37*39th meridian E. long, and the western shore of Lake Eyre, on the north by the 29° S. lat., and on the south by the proposed railway line, containing about 850 square miles. 4. Bounded on tbe north nnd south, by tho 28 -30th fand 29th parallel of S. lat , oa tho oast by the 139° E. long., and ou the west 'by the proposed railway line (exclusive of Lake Eyre between said parallels of latitude), containing about 4,500 square miles. 5. Bounded on the north by the 23th parallel of S. lat., on the south, by tbe S. lat. 2Sa 30', on the west bv E. lone. 131° SO', and en the eastbv

the proposed railway line, containing about 10,000 square miles. * 6. Bounded on the north by S. lat. 27° 30', on tbe south by S. lat. 23°, ou the e;ist by tho 139' E. long., and on the west by the proposed rail way line, containing about 7,200 square miles. 7. Bounded on the north by the 27s S. lat., on the south by parallel of S. lat. 27° 30', on the west by E. long. 130° 50', and on the east by the proposed railway Hue, containing about 10,000 square miles. 8. Containing all the land lying between the 26-S0th and 27th parallels of S. lat, and between the 139th degree E. long, and tha proposed railway line, containing about 8,200 square miles. 9. Comprising all the lands between the 26th and 26-30th parallels of S. lat, the 130' 20' E. long, and the proposed railway lino, containing about 10,000 square miles. 10. Bounded on the north by S. lat. 25° 30' on S. by S. lat. 26°, on the east by the 139° E. Ion*., and on the west by the proposed railway line, containing about 9,400 square miles. 11. Bounded on the north by the 25° S. lat., onv the south by 13. lat. 25° 30', on the west by E. long. 129° 35', and on the east by the pro posed railway line, containing about 10,000 square miles. 12. Bounded on the south by the 25th parallel of S. lat., on the north by the south parallel of lat. 24° 30', on the east by the 139° of E. long., and on the west by the proposed railway line, containing about 10,800 square miles. 13. Bounded on the north by the 24° of S. lat., on the south by parallel of lat. 24° 30' south, on the west by the 129° E. long., and on the east by the proposed railway line, con taining about 9,600 square railea. 14. Bounded on the south by the 24th parallel of S. lat., on the north by parallel of S. lat. 23° 30', on tho east by the 139th meridian of E. long., and on the west by the proposed railway line, containing about 12,000 square miles. 15. Bounded on the north by the 23rd parallel of S. lat., on the south by parallel 23° 30' S., and on the west by the 129° E. long., and on the east by the proposed railway line, containing about 10,009 square miles. 16. Bounded on the south by S. lat. 23% en the north by parallel of S. lat. 22° 30', on the east by the 139° E. long., and on the west by tbe proposed railway line, containing about 12,800 square miles. 17. Bounded on the north by the 22nd parallel of S. lat., on the south by parallel of S. lat. 229 3C, on the west by the 1293 E. long;., and on the east by the proposed railway line, containing about 9,600 square miles. 18. Comprising all that country lying between the parallels of S. lat. 21° 30' and 223, and between the 139° of E. long, and the proposed railway line, containing ab©ut ll,50u square miles. 19. Comprising all that land lying between the parallels of S. lat. 21° and '21° 30\ and between the meridian of E. long. 129° 30' and the proposed railway line, containing about 10,500 square miles. 20. Bounded on the south by the 21st parallel of S. lat., on the north by parallel of S. lat. 209 30*, on the east by the 139th degree of E. long., and -on the west by the proposed railway line, containing about 10,800 square miles. 21. Bounded on the north by the 20th parallel of S. lat., on the south by parallel of S. lat. 20° 13*, on the west by meridian of E. long. 129° 15', and on the east by the proposed railway line, containing about 10,400 square miles. 22. Comprising all that country lying between parallels of S. lat. 19° 30' and 20°, tho 189th meridian of E. long., and the proposed railway line, containing about 10.800 square miles. 23. Bounded on the north by the 19th parallel of S. lat., on the south by parallel of S. lat. 19° 3C, on the west by 129th meridian of E. long., and on the east by the proposed railway line, containing about 11,700 square miles. 24. Bounded on the south by the l&th parallel of S. lat., on the north by parallel of S. lat. 18° 30', on the east by the 139th meridian of E. long., and on the west by the proposed railway line, containing about 11,500 square miles. 25. Bounded on the north by tho 18th parallel of S. lat., on the south by parallel of S. lat., 18° 30', on the west by the 129th meridian of E. long., .and on the east by the proposed railway liae, containing about 10,800 aquare ndlea. 2o\ Bounded on the south by the 18th parallel of S. lat., on the north by parallel of S. lat. 17' 30', on the east by the 139th degree of E. long., and ou the west by tho proposed rail way line, containing about 12,400 square miles. 27. Bounded on the north by the 17th parallel of S. lat., on the south by parallel of S. lat. 17° 3QT} on the west by the 129th degree of K long.., and on the east by the proposed rail way ii;ue, containing about 10,000 square miles. 28.. Bounded on ? the south by tho 17th par/iUel of S. lat., on the north by parallel of S. lat. 16° 30', on'. tha east by the lS9th meridian of E» long., and on the west by the proposed rail way line, containing about 13,300 square miles. 29. Bounded on the north by the 16th parallel of S. lat, on the south by parallel of S. kt. 16° 30*, on the west by the 129th meridian of iK'long. y and on the east by the proposed rail way line, containing, absut 9,800 square miles. 30. Bounded on the south by the 16th parallel of S. lat., on the north by parallel of S.1 lat. 15* 30V:ori the east by the Gulf of Carpentaria, and on the we9t by the propaaed. railway line, containing about 7,700 square miles,

31. Bounded on the north by the 15th parallel of S. Lat., on the south bj parallel of S. lat. 15s 30', on the west by the 129th meridian of 8. long., and on the east by the proponed railway lino, containing about 10,100 square milos. 32. Bounded on the south by tho 15th parallel of S. lat., on the north by parallel of S. lat 14* SO', on the east by the Gulf of Carpentaria, and on the west by the proposed railway line, containing about 5,900 square miles. 33. Bounded on the north by the 14 tit parallel of S. lat., on the south by parallel of S. lat. 14° M, on the west by the 129th meridian of £. long., and on the east by the proposed railway hnb, containing about 7,500 square miles. 34. Bounded on the east by the 132ni meridian of E. long., on the west by the Ade laide Kiver and east long. 131° 20*, on the north by the sea-coast, and on the south by the pro posed railway line, containing about 4,000 square miles. 35. Comprising all that country lyin? between . the meridians of E. long. 132° 35' and 183' W, and between the sea-coast and S. lat. 14* W, containing about 6,350 square miles. The Articles of Association and Share- holders. On May 7 the Attorney-General laid on the table the articles of association and list of original shareholders in the Port Augusta and Port Darwin Railway Company, limited. The names of the latter are as follows:— W. Morgan, T. B. Bruce, W. K. Simms, John Whyte, John Beck, J. Hodgkiss, Henry Martin, C. H. T. Connor, David Hurray, John B. S pence, Frederic O. Bruce, G. T. Bean, William Mair, Geo. Main, S. J. Way, John B. Neales, P. Levi, Peter ' D. Prankerd, E. M. Young, William Rounsevell, £. M. Bagot, E. A. Wright, F. H. Faulding & Co., li. L. Vosz, F. W. Stokes, Alex. Hay, S. Tom kinson, Caleb Peacock, R. D. Rosa, John Chambers, H. IL Fuller, M. Saloin, Geo. P. Harris, J. Fisher, Adolph H. F. Bartels, A. B. Murray, W. H. Charnock, WilliaM Kay, Herbert B. Hughes, Henry Simpson, W. L. Marchant, G. & R. E. Fry, Harrold Brothers, Walter Duffield, F. Hannaford, W. J. Magarey, John Crozier, W. W. Hughes, Thomas Elder, R. C. Baker. Thi* list is signed by Mr. 11. D. Ross, as Mana ging Director. We may mention that since this paper was laid on the table some nevr names have been added, and that it is con templated shortly to call a meeting to con sider the question of altering the articles of association, so as to largely extend the pro prietary. The Bill at its Skoosu Reading. In the Assembly two tolerably distinct parties have already been formed in reference to the Trans-Australian Railway Bill, altogether irrespective of its merits. The one exhibits an eager desire to press ou the discussion of the subject at once; the

other pleads for ample tune lor its considera tion. Singularly enough they both rely upon the same argument — the cnormoui magnitude of the interests involved — the one apparently using it to establish the necessity for putting the community out of suspense; the other to demonstrate the impossibility of grasping the question in all its bearings in a limited time. Both, we are ready to believe, are actuated by tho best of motives, but the former seem to us to be pursuing a mistaketi policy. The project outlined in the Bill has only been fairly before the public for five weeks— a period not more than long enough to enable them to appreciate its yaBt ness, and certainly far too short to admit of the full comprehension of its immense details and far-reaching consequences. Members of Parliament — even those who have had special facilities for making themselves acquainted with the subject— admit that they have not had time to habituate their minds to {the scheme and arrive at a just conclusion upon it, and we are satisfied . that the country at large is in no better position. From whatever point of view the matter is regarded, it is not one to be settled upon first lmprea sion. There is no urgent, need, as in tho case of the Overland Telegraph, to accept or reject the offer of the promoters of the Bill within a specified time. There is little danger of our missing an opportunity which some of our neighbours may seize upon and turn to account. If the project is a good one, its thorough ventilation will be a benefit, and not an injury ; if it is a bad one, it is moat undesirable that precipitate action should be resorted to to conceal its defects. What the public are entitled to demand at the present stage are facts and figures whereon to form a correct judgment; and, so far, there is little or nothing to complain of in the course adopted by the Assembly. They have com mitted themselves to the proposition that it is desirable to encourage the formation of a railway across the continent by the granting of alternate blocks. They have as a corollary to this announced themselves ready to treat with persons willing to under take the work upon terms of that nature ; and on Wednesday, May. 15, they went further, and gave the Hon. Arthur Blyth an opportunity of placing the views and wishes of a body of such persons distinctly before the country. Having done this they resolved, upon taking further time to con sider the matter, and we trust that the period for consideration, will not be unduly curtailed. In many respects. Mr. Blyth's speech waa an admirable one— clear,, argumentative, and to a large extent free from those verbal redundancies which the hon. member is not always careful to avoid. It took no note of minor details ;. but dealt with the leading principles of the Bill,, suggesting grounds in: their favour, and meeting objections that have been raised agaiost them. With all its merits, however, it must be confessed that it presented many assailable points. The statement at the outset, that the only material exceptions, taken to the measure had reference to the time and the quantity of land asked for, failed to do justice to Mr. Ebenezer Ward and others, who have pro tested against granting concessions to a particular Company, and against South. Australia engaging in this matter single handed. These are questions that go to tho foundation of the Bill, and are at all events worthy of notice. The honourable member, in. alluding to the objection that the Bill proposed to lock up200,000,000 acres of land for five years, pointed out th&fc under the present regulations persons could take up, portions of the Northern Territory for pastoral purposes, and hold them for seven, years at a peppercorn rental,, upon condition, of their being stocked before the end of that term. Even if that were so, it would not. necessarily be a justification for tbe course proposed by the Promoters; but Mr. BlytU was. evidently speaking, without book, for under the regulations quoted the stocking has to take place within one year, and it must precede the issue of the leaser which contains the well-known covenant*, for resumptionupon. giving sixmoivths' notice. In reality, therefore, the 'locking -up' ia. very insecurely accomplished. This, how ever, is by the way, for if the line ia to be. laid out, and the alternate blocks, surveyed* five years will not much more than Ruffioe, for the purpose. The arguments of the hon. member in. favour of alienating to the Com pany 200,000,000 acres of land— no more , and no less— were strangely inconclusive. ,' Month by month, and day by day,' ha remarked, 'our knowledge of the Northern Territory i3 increasing. It has been knowa for years that the country contained gold, | and of late we have been receiving. inforruA ( tiofc to warrant the fcotitf tlltt it i%

exceedingly rich in that metal ; we I kave heard that the soil ia -capable ?f yielding in abundance all the tropical productions which have been such a source of wealth to the neighbouring islands^ and experience is proving that all that has been said is true; we have been ~preparc«l to. think well of the Roper, and., since this question was last before us we have been1 put in possession of additional facts in its favour.' Precisely so, and the very circum stance that we have been so ignorant of the capabilities of the territory, and are daily having thai ignorance dispelled, furnishes a strong argument in favour either of delay or of- some modification 'of the 200,000,000 acre scheme. If we are to be guided by commercial principles at all in dealing with the question, it is absurd to say that this quantity shall be granted and no other. If the Company are willing to take a certain area, nominally worth Bay 2s. an acre now, . is it reasonable that they should ask for the some area to-morrow if information is then receivedof the existence of a gold-field that will raise the nominal value to 10s., or ten timea 10a. an acre? We do not submit these considerations in any spirit of antagonism to the proposal to construct a railway across the continent, but with a desire that the subject should be dealt with in a business like way. It is easy to give undue prominence to the question of acreage, but after all it cannot be entirely ignored. If the land is to be considered as nothing, but its alienation for purposes of settlement everything, why atop short at 200,000,000 acres? Why not make it 300,000,000, and thus put another 100,000,000 acres in the way of being settled? Other points in Mr. Blyth's speech : challenged criticism, but to the whole of these we have not space to refer. We agree with him that the railway would do wonders in the way of opening up the country, but he rather exaggerates the direct advan tages that it will be to South Australia. We cannot coincide with him in thinking that it will bring all the trade of the Northern Territory here, or indissolubly bind that portion of the continent to us. Land carriage can under no circumstances com pete in cheapness with water carriage ; and we cannot hope that the through traffic over a line of tailway 2,000 miles long will be very great. Neither can we fairly anti cipate a perpetual connection between the northern and southern territories of this province. If the present sectional system of colonial government is maintained North Australia is pretty sure to become an inde pendent colony; if, as we firmly believe it will be, a federation of the provinces is soon brought about, North Australia will be erected into a separate State. It. seems to us that this question, to be fairly treated, must be regarded as one of national and not of merely local interest. The rail road will benefit South Australia, it is true, but it will also in a similar degree conduce to the wellbeing of all the colonies situated upon the Australian mainland. We may add that at present the debate on the second reading of the Bill stands adjourned until Wednesdav next.

The Scheme. out of Doors. The public are beginning to show an in terest in the scheme, and already several public meetings have been held. At two of these, which were somewhat moderately attended, resolutions were carried in favour of the Bill. At the third, held at Kapunda, and attended by 300 persons, the view was taken that the project was premature, and should not be proceeded with for, at all events, twelve months. A large amount of correspondence, chiefly in favour of the Bill, has been published in the papers. Mr. M. Lockhart Morton has proposed, through the Melbourne Argust an alternative scheme, having Echuca for the terminus and Port Darwin for the other, branches being thrown out to Adelaide, Sydney, and Brisbane. He proposes that the land endowments for this railway should be provided by South Aus tralia, New South Wales, and Queensland.

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