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Wednesday, 23 November 1921


Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - In regard to the provision inserted in another place relating to vessels already ordered, I desire to say that when we were discussing this mattor before, I pointed out that the programme of Australian steamship companies is one that cannot be abruptly terminated. Vessels ordered twelve months ago from shipyards abroad may not arrive in Australia for six or eight months. Their suitability for the trade in which they are to be engaged will then be tested, and it may be that a repeat order cannot be placed until such tests are made. Honorable senators know that the class of vessel engaged in tha trade between. Tasmania and the mainland has been specially constructed and designed for that service, and it will be quite possible for a shipping company to give a repeat order for a sister ship with practically nothing more than an intimation that such is required. Honorable senators who have visited the shipbuilding yards in the Old Country know that a model is kept of every vessel constructed, and a most complete record of the drawings and other details. Every one wishes the shipbuilding . industry in Australia to be a success, but it cannot be expected, within the short space of two or three years, to acquire all the experience and knowledge that has been gathered in the shipbuilding yards in Great Britain over a long period. Nearly all shipping companies do business with certain shipbuilders who know exactly what their requirements are. Orders have been placed with British shipbuilding yards for the vessels required for intra and inter State trade, and some of the vessels will have to be tested when they arrive, and if they are satisfactory it may be necessary to purchase a sister vessel, in which case a repeat order will have to be placed. In the meantime, our own shipbuilding yards will be able to proceed, but they will acquire a. certain amount of experience in constructing vessels of small tonnage. Having previously agreed to this request on the voices, and with the concurrence of the Minister who was in charge at the time (Senator Pearce), I trust the Committee will press for the extension of the period to the 1st January, 1925. If we vary our request, it is more than probable that the other House will adhere to the 30th June, 1923. Considering that the Senate adopted 1925 as a compromise on the voices, and with the concurrence of the representative of the Government, I trust the request will be pressed.







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