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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Mr KELLY (Wentworth) .- Any honorable member who is anxious to see this contract ratified as soon as po'ssible must necessarily be placed in an awkward position by the amendment. However much we may desire to see the mail steamers regularly visiting the three ports mentioned in the first portion of the proposal - we all recognise that they must, in any case, for their own trade purposes, call at Melbourne and Sydney - we cannot overlook the fact that if we impose this additional burden upon the contractors we shall be practically destroying the agreement, and rendering it necessary for the Government to enter into a long series of negotiations, involving great del a v. This matter is so vital to the Commonwealth-

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister has admitted that the question would be dealt with in a separate contract.

Mr KELLY - The existing contract between the Orient' Steam Navigation Company and Queensland for a fortnightly service to Brisbane costs that State £26,000 per annum.

Mr Fisher - Less the small subsidy from the Commonwealth.

Mr KELLY - £26,000 per annum is the contract price. My honorable friends from Queensland will recognise that the contractors will ask an additional £20,000 or £30,000 a year for giving a like service.

Mr Fisher - They will not get it.

M!r. KELLY. - Then obviously the contract is going to be destroyed. I presume that the Postmaster-General and the Government have secured the very best tender available.

Mr Austin Chapman - It is the very best that can be got.

Mr KELLY - If that be so- if this contract is at bedrock - the result of our refusing to grant an additional sum for extra services would 'be the casting of it into the wastepaper basket; I should like to see Brisbane enjoying similar benefits to those possessed bv the larger ports, but my objective at present1 is the ratification of this contract at the very earliest date. I therefore regret that I shall have to vote against the amendment'.

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