The letter from Alfred Deakin to John Kirwan
I write this as a reply to yours of May 12th but not as a letter to your paper though you are quite at liberty to use the information such as it is that I can give you and quote me as your authority if you so desire. It is of course impossible for me to attempt to predict the action of a Federal Parliament which is not yet in being as regards to its some day to be preferred Railway routes.
One can only point to the fact that though the several trans-continental
lines you mention will all be concluded in course of time the interests
of NSW, Vic, Tas and S.A. - even of the south of Q'land are certain to
be better served by the improvement of existing western mail routes to
the old world than by any other. The navigation in Torres Strait is much
more dangerous and the line of transit through Imperial beats longer than
to Fremantle. Besides speaking for myself I have publicly advocated the
construction of the line from Adelaide to Perth as the first necessities
of the Commonwealth and always found the suggestion applauded.
The worst matter in the voyage to Europe at present is generally in the Bight and around the Leeuwin which would all be avoided by taking ship at Fremantle. I speak of course simply my opinion but it seems to me so plain that this particular line is required for mail purposes for common sense and for defences as well as for another means of opening up your mining country that so far as I can judge it has a long lead of any other similar proposals.
If WA joins the Union it will be [in] the interest of the Union to make
the best use of her geographical advantages (which will then be the Union's
as much as yours) for the sake of the Union. It is our interests as much
as yours that the line should be built and it is upon this fact of our
joint interests in it that renders me so hopeful of its early construction.
Yours very truly
Alfred Deakin [Battye Library, Acc 383A/16/h(i)]