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Wednesday, 30 October 1912

Senator LONG (Tasmania) .- Owing to the fact that for weeks past I have suffered from a severe dental trouble, it is impossible for me to discuss, at any great length, the matter now before the Senate, though it is, of course, of great moment to the State from which I come. I cannot allow the second reading of the Bill to pass without expressing the gratitude I feel to the present Government for the very prompt manner in which they proceeded to deal with the question of assistance to Tasmania as soon as they sssumed possession of the Treasury benches. It is a matter of history that the Government were not in office for more than a few weeks when a motion was submitted by a representative of Tasmania for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the claims of that State to a special grant. The Select Committee was subsequently converted into a Royal Commission, the members of which visited various States and inquired very exhaustively into the whole question. No member of the Government or of the Senate can claim to express anything like as sound an opinion upon the justice of Tasmania's claims as can the members of that Commission. The fact that they unanimously recommended that Tasmania is entitled to a grant of £900,000 should of itself have been sufficient to induce the Government to treat that State more generously than they propose to do in this Bill. I feel sure that it will not alarm the members of the Government in the Senate when I say that the combined forces from the State of Tasmania will fight to the last ditch to secure for that State the full amountrecommended by the Royal Commission. We can look to our friends on the Opposition benches to come to the assistance of our little State in this matter. I should like to say to Senator Stewart, without entering into any question of party, and without being too critical of the mismanagement of past Governments in Tasmania which the honorable Senator says in a measure was responsible for the present position of the State, that the patriotism of Tasmania, and her loyalty to the Federation, has, in some measure, contributed to her present position. It is because Tasmanians, setting an example which, I am sorry to say, has not been followed by other States of the Commonwealth, have used and consumed Australian-made goods, that the State is in her present position. If the people of the other States had followed that example, our imports would not have increased so hugely as they have done.

Senator de Largie - Western Australia consumes about twice the value of Australian goods that Tasmania does.

Senator LONG - Western Australia is, perhaps, second to Tasmania in that respect. 1 am hopeful that the Government, even before a vote is taken on the request given notice of by Senator O'Keefe, will come to the conclusion that the honorable senator's proposal is a reasonable one; that it will meet with their approval, and that the Bill will be returned to the House of Representatives withthe request that the grant should be increased to £900,000. I regret that, for the reason I have mentioned, I am not able to go into the question as fully as I should like, but if I were in the best condition, I, perhaps, could not add anything to the arguments which have been so clearly, logically, and collectively put before the Senate by other representatives of Tasmania. I content myself by expressing the hope that to-morrow we shall be able to send across to Tasmania the good news that the Senate, which, after all, is the States' House, has taken a more just view of Tasmania's claim than was taken of it in another place, and has agreed to confirm the recommendation of the Royal Commission and give her £900,000.

Senator VARDON(South Australia) {8.57]. - This matter has been talked about a good deal, and we have heard it said that action should have been taken very much sooner, and justice done to the State of Tasmania. I have here the report of the Royal Commission, and I see that it commenced its duties on the 10th August, 1910, and the report is dated 23rd September, 1 01 1. In the circumstances, I do not know that there is any great reason to complain of delay in the matter. The Tasmanian claim is either just or unjust. It is right that we should recognise it in full or that we should refuse to recognise it altogether. But the Government have recognised the claim to a certain extent. The Royal Commission, after investigating the matter thoroughly, and taking evidence which covered between 300 and 400 pages, came to a unanimous conclusion that the sum of £900,000 should be paid to Tasmania to recoup her for the loss she had sustained because of her entry into the Federation.

Senator Clemons - The Royal Commission was representative of all the States.

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