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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) (Minister of External Affairs) . - I take it that the very section of the Imperial contract with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company to which the honorable member has referred, proves my contention. It says -

The Admiralty shall at any time during the continuance of this agreement, if they shall consider it necessary in the public interest so to do, have power and be at liberty to purchase any or all of the mail ships, &c.

That gives the Admiralty absolute power to purchase those vessels if they consider it necessary to do so, the only limitation imposed being as to whether they regard such, a step as essential in the public interest ?

Mr McCay - In what matters other than defence are the Admiralty the judges of the public interest?

Mr DEAKIN - That rests entirely with the Government, of which the Admiralty represents one Department.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Subject to the provisions pf the subvention between the Admiralty and the company.

Mr DEAKIN - The Imperial contract, which I had in my mind when the deputyleader of the Opposition was speaking, resembled that with the Cunard Company, dated 30th July, 1903, which contains the following : -

His Majesty's Government shall have the right on giving notice in writing to the company of their intention so to do to take possession of any vessel which they require to purchase or hire under the provisions of this Agreement immediately on the arrival of such vessel at her port of discharge from the voyage. . . .

There is no limitation as to public interests - no limitation whatever. In sub-section

3.   of clause 4 of the Cunard agreement' of 1903 we find that provision.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Cunard agreement of 1903 was renewed in 1904.

Mr DEAKIN - I dare say it was. If any recollection is right, and I think it is, the language used in another contract with the British Government, which we had in mind and have seen, is exactly that which has been employed in this contract of ours.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is no provision of the kind in the contracts with the Orient Steam Navigation Company.

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