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Friday, 19 March 1926

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister for Home and Territories) . - The only question raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) has been fully replied to by Senator Drake-Brockman. With regard to the matter mentioned by Senator Duncan, I can only say that as the question was addressed to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) I shall bring the honorable senator's remarks under the notice of the Leader of the Government.

Senator Duncan - Probably the Prime Minister did npt see the reply.

Senator PEARCE - The answer was that, on account of the cost involved, it was not considered advisable to call upon the board to supply the information.

Senator Duncan - That is not so.

Senator PEARCE - In the circumstances, I think it is for the honorable senator to show that some practical public purpose would be served in order to justify the expenditure involved.

Senator Duncan - I believe the board has the information readily available.

Senator PEARCE - That, at all events, was the reply furnished by the Prime Minister. I cannot see in what way the public will be benefited by being informed as to the receipts in respect of traffic to' and from Australia. It has not yet been proved that the information containedinthe annual report of the Pacific Cable Board is not as complete as it should be. The honorable senator also desired information as to the maintenance of staffs and stations in Australia. We know that the Pacific Cable Company is in strong competition with a rival company, and it might be inadvisable - I do not advance this as a reason why the information was not supplied - to furnish its rival with certain details of the Pacific Cable Board's business in Australia.

Senator Duncan - My questions were inspired because of a strong commercial agitation in Sydney for a reduction of the terminal charges and the rates fixed by the board. The board has declared that reductions cannot be made, because of the traffic, but it is believed that if the information I have asked for is furnished, it will be seen that the board can afford to reduce the charges.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable gentleman did not say that before. Probably the course which he has suggested, namely the tabling of a motion for the preparation of a return, is the better one to adopt. The honorable senator may then advance what he has now said as a reason why the return should be prepared, and if there is any reason why the information should not be supplied the Minister will bo able to indicate it when replying. Obviously the Prime Minister satisfied himself with tho answer supplied by the Pacific CableBoard because it had the approval of the Government. I have no doubt that the board gave tho Prime Minister good reasons why further details were not supplied.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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