QSA ID 611079:Acts of the Parliament of Queensland:  VOL 11, 38 & 39 VIC
News of the day


Wednesday 8 September 1880, page 2


It has been already announced that among other festivities Roma will celebrate the opening of the railway line to the town with a day's racing on the 17th instant. We have been shown a telegram from Mr. W. Gaynor, the hon. secretary of the Western Queensland Racing Club, in which it is stated that all horses entered for these races will have free passage by rail both ways. This ought to be a great inducement to owners to nominate.


Throughout the latter half of the 19th century railway construction to open up potential pastoral and agricultural districts of Queensland loomed large in government policy. Railways were expensive, requiring massive injections of overseas capital, and it is not surprising that many leading politicians looked to the North American practice of issuing land grants to private railway companies. This became the basis of the Continental Railway Bill which was introduced into parliament by Secretary of Railways, Sir Thomas McIlwraith, in 1875. McIlwraith proposed that the government should accept an offer by Collier and Company to build a railway from Dalby to the Gulf of Carpentaria via Roma in exchange for generous land grants. The heated debate which followed included allegations that McIlwraith held financial interests in the private company, but negotiations finally broke down after a representative from Collier and Company inspected the route from Dalby to Roma and demanded cash and debentures from the government. As this was deemed unacceptable, the Bill was altered to become the Western Railway Bill which allowed the government to build its own railway as far as Roma. The extension was officially opened on 16 September 1880 and while private railways became a reality in limited mining and timber operations, all main lines henceforth remained a government responsibility.


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