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Thursday, 30 June 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) . - I join with Senator Keating in congratulating the Government upon having secured a contract which will almost guarantee regularity in the carriage of our mails. I also congratulate the Government upon having provided for regularity in the carriage of our mails through the medium of a contract, rather than by extending the scope of its commercial interests. Senator Thomas has said that some years ago he advocated that Australia should run her own mail boats, but to my way of thinking, before Australia can do that, the Government must first learn how to carry on a business on commercial lines. We all recognise the difficulty of inducing ships to come to Australia, to-day, and of inducing ships that are here to remain here. Our difficulty doe3 not arise from the commercialism of which we have heard so much, but because, in our northern and western ports, it has been found almost impossible to induce men to load or discharge boats for a reasonable wage. I believe that, for the purpose of a mail contract, it is unnecessary that we should provide for any more than the delivery of mails at Fremantle. We should make use of the railways of the Commonwealth in the distribution of mails from that port. I can. see no necessity for embodying in this Agreement a provision requiring the boats employed in the mail service to go right away round from Fremantle to Sydney.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator and I agree on that point.

Senator WILSON - Then I can report progress if I have induced S'enator Thomas to go so far with me. While Senator Gardiner was speaking, I asked him to say who, during the war, did not lay themselves out to secure profits. That remark was strongly resented, and the honorable senator suggested that he would not think of looking for profit in that way. It is easy to express indignation when such things are said, but I have noticed that the honorable senator is as anxious to secure this world's goods, and to make profits, as I am myself. I may say that I have not noticed the name of the honorable senator, and of another honorable senator who resented my remark, on the economy list of members of the Senate, who are drawing only £600 a year.

Senator MILLEN (TASMANIA) - They have sense.

Senator WILSON - I admit that they have.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator T. Bakhap). - It is not in order for the honorable senator to discuss the parliamentary allowance on the motion before the Chair.

Senator WILSON - I bow, sir, to your, ruling. No member of the Senate' would approve of any company taking advantage of the conditions due to the war to make unjust profits. I remind Senator Gardiner that; during the war period, the wages of unionists went up from 10s. to 17s. per day in most industries. I resent the imputation that I represent profiteers. I represent the average Australian, who is out to make good, and who uses his brains to do so. We have to realize that it is absolutely essential to have a regular mail service between Australia and Great Britain, as otherwise commercial interests would be seriously interfered with. Our letters must be delivered on time, as our obligations have to he met within a certain period, and for that reason I am pleased the Government have been able to enter into a contract which, to me, is satisfactory. I trust the time will not come when we will undertake the building of our own ships to carry mails when a better service can be provided by private enterprise.

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