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Wednesday, 14 October 1914

Mr SPENCE (DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Postmaster-General) - The facts of the case are these: Owing to two of the Orient Steam Navigation Company's liner? being engaged for transport purposes, the company's arrangements have been somewhat upset. The company state that shippers of butter were informed that the agreement existing between them and the Commonwealth was suspended owing to the war. The people engaged in the meat export trade had such a large stock of meat waiting to be exported that they made arrangements with the Orient Steam Navigation Company to get the meat away. They pointed out that unless they could get space for their meat they would be obliged to shut up their works. The Orient Steam Navigation Company state that the butter exporters did not approach them, and, therefore, the first boat sailing, the Osterley, has no room for butter owing to the whole of the space having been already taken, principally for meat. They have promised, however, to reserve apace for at least 600 tons on the next boat leaving for London, which will be the Orsova. There seems to be some misunderstanding in regard to the provisions of the agreement between the company and the Postmaster-General. It does not appear mandatory on the company to hold space for 300 tons as has been stated. The agreement is that if 300 tons is offered the company has to reserve space for that quantity, apart altogether from any other product. The clause being somewhat ambiguous, I have obtained the opinion of the Crown Law Department upon it, and their opinion is that it does not impose any compulsion on the company to reserve space for 300 tons. I urged them very strongly to do their best for the butter exporters, and they have promised definitely to reserve space for 600 tons on the Orsova.

Mr MASSY-GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the Minister of Trade and Customs endeavour to ascertain whether the beef being taken by the Osterley is shipped by the Beef Trust?

Mr TUDOR - If the honorable member will place the question on the noticepaper, I shall endeavour to give an answer.

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