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Friday, 22 April 1921

Senator RUSSELL - The honorable senator may 'think so. There are lots of vessels for sale in England, but they would probably cost more for repairs than would be involved in the construction of entirely new ships. Many of them are practically only hulls, with neither boilers nor fittings. If they were brought to Australia in the hope that they might be repaired we should find that it would pay us better to build entirely new vessels than to touch them with a. forty -foot pole. It is the desire of the Government to provide greater mail facilities than we at present possess, and we are moving in that direction as rapidly as possible. The Postmaster-General, I can assure honorable senators, will do his best to see that every condition in the Tasmanian mail contract is complied with. But we cannot always insure that. In the contract for the carriage of our over-sea mails we cannot get anything better than a fortnightly service for some six or eight months to come, because suitable vessels are not available. Moreover, the shipping companies say that no vessels of a suitable character can be purchased, and that, consequently, new ships will require to be built.

Senator Bakhap - But we have the boats here which were contemplated under the Tasmanian mail contract.

Senator RUSSELL - I am quite aware of that. The Postmaster-General will do all that he can to insure a strict adherence to the terms of that contract, in the interests, not only of Tasmania, but of the Commonwealth.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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