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in the Central district. Messrs. Fraser and Forrest made a flying survey of the lands contiguous to the proposed line, and on 16th January a meeting of members of the Council resolved not to give an opinion until a report of the route and land, with an approximate estimate of cost and maintenance, was laid before them. Governor Robinson seemed to be greatly in favour of Mr. Joubert's scheme; but the unofficial members of the House, led by Mr. Lee-Steere, and weighted by the support of Sir T.C. Campbell, Sir L.S. Leake, Messrs. L.C. Burges, S.S. Parker, W.E. Marmion, G. Shenton, S. Burt, and S. H. Parker, could not agree with him. They considered that Mr. Joubert ought to work the line for a number of years, and held that as he placed the total cost of construction and equipment at £3,500 per mile, 6,160,000 acres instead of 10,000,000 would suffice to reimburse him for his outlay. With the latter area there would be a net profit to the constructor of 3,840,000 acres, or an equivalent, at 2s. 6d. per acre, of £480,000. Considerable correspondence between the Governor and members took place, and Mr. Joubert's offer was wisely declined.
In August, 1882, Mr. Audley Coote, representing a syndicate, wrote from Hobart, Tasmania, offering to construct the line. He desired the Government to guarantee 3 per cent. interest for twenty-five years on a sum not exceeding £1,000,000, and magnanimously promised to divide with the colony the net profit on the working of the railway beyond 7 per cent. on the capital expended. The Government, he suggested, should be at liberty to purchase the line on giving twelve months' notice. Mr. Coote's offer received very slight attention. At about the same time a proposal was made to construct a railway, on the land-grant system, from Roebuck Bay into the new Kimberley district; but it, too, found few supporters.
Other schemes were projected in 1883. Sir Julius Vogel and Mr. Audley Coote, Colonel McMundo, and Mr. Anthony Hordern proposed to build railways from York or Beverley to Albany, and thence to Eucla, along the coast or through the Hampton Plains. But the scheme of Mr. Hordern received prior consideration. He submitted a proposition to the Government in January, 1883, which met with especial favour. A month after its receipt Governor Robinson left the colony, and Chief Justice Wrenfordsley administered local affairs until June, when Sir F. Napier Broome, K.C.M.G., began his long association with local affairs. This administrator studied the question of land-grant railways, and made suggestions to the legislators, upon whose deliberations the onus of deciding the momentous issues was cast. Mr. Hordern offered to construct, equip, maintain, and work a railway connecting York with Albany, of the same gauge as the Government railways. The line was to be completed within five years. He asked that the syndicate be granted alternate blocks of land in sections of 12,000 acres along the route for every mile constructed, such grants to be made upon the completion of each section of twenty miles, with the option of selecting lands in other parts of the colony, south of Perth and south and east of York, when unsuitable land lay alongside the line. All lands within ten miles on each side of the line were to be withdrawn from sale by the Government for a period of eight years from the signing of the contract. The syndicate was to have the privilege of declaring alternate town-sites on the route. When this railway was completed, Mr. Hordern asked that he be permitted, under similar terms, to build a line along the western seaboard to connect Perth, and the principal ports on the route, with Cambridge Gulf, in the extreme north. The syndicate first proposed to introduce 50,000 European immigrants, but upon the arrival of each ship's load the Government must grant in fee 120 acres for each adult and 60 acres for each child under fifteen years of age.
This scheme was gigantic enough for a glutton in railway construction. After a few scratches of the pen, the southern, western, and northern coasts were to be traversed by a railway as large and majestic as any ever projected, and the population was to jump by 50,000 at one bold bound. The colony was established because of a scheme a fifth as large; and various glorified colonising proposals had been formulated during its chequered history; but all had come to nought. In courage and magnificence, Mr. Hordern's capitalists were going to outdo them all. Governor Robinson, on 23rd January, appointed a committee, consisting of the Colonial Secretary, Director of Public Works, Messrs. Marmion, Shenton, Randell, Morrison, Monger, Loton, and Sir T.C. Campbell, to consider the whole or part of this proposal. The members reported to Acting Governor Wrenfordsley in March, and immediately entered into detail. So far as connecting Beverley with York was concerned, as most of the land on either side of the route to be followed was alienated, the scheme could not be carried out. The line must therefore start from Beverley, and the route to Albany should be fixed by the Government. In any section of twenty miles, no deviation that would lengthen the section by three miles should be permitted by the Government unless approved of by the Government engineer. The rolling stock, permanent way, &c., should conform in quality with what was used by the Government, and be subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Railways or the Government engineer. One train should start from either terminus daily, and the tariff of charges should be subject to the approval of the Government. Then applying itself to important matters, the report advised that all unalienated lands within thirty miles east and west of the proposed line be withdrawn from sale until the full assignment of the syndicate's land was made, when Crown lands might be thrown open to selection and purchase. The syndicate should have the power to declare town or village sites along the route. Material for the railway should be admitted free of duty, and be carried over the Government railway at a reduced rate, instead of for nothing, as asked by Mr. Hordern. The members agreed that 12,000 acres in fee would be a fair equivalent for every mile constructed, but no blocks should be granted of less than 60,000 acres, to be selected east or west, within thirty miles of the section. Only seventy-five per cent. of the land should be granted at the completion of each section of twenty miles; the remaining portion should be retained until the whole line was completed. They suggested that a clause be inserted in the agreement insuring the proper upkeep and continuous working of the line, and thought the syndicate should bear all cost of surveys and necessary engineering supervision during construction. Finally, they declared that they had insufficient data before them to warrant them to recommend the acceptance of Mr. Hordern's proposal, but were of opinion that should the syndicate agree to introduce not less than 5,000 European immigrants within five years from the commencement of the work, the Government might pay a sum not exceeding £10 for each adult under fifty years of age.
Mr. Hordern was supplied with a copy of this report, and submitted an amended proposal to construct the railway as near as possible upon the lines laid down by the committee. He now left out of all consideration the fatuous and insane idea of building a railway to Cambridge Gulf, and expressed his desire to begin the Beverley to Albany line as quickly as was feasible. His syndicate was willing to deposit with the Government any satisfactory sum as a guarantee for the due performance of the contract, so far as the first section of twenty miles was concerned. In regard to the land grant, he asked that upon the signing of the agreement, the