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Friday, 11 November 1927
Page: 1331

Report ofpublic Accounts Committee.

Debate resumed from 10th November (vide page 1190) on motion by Senator Kingsmill -

That the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on the Commonwealth Government shipping activities, including Cockatoo Island Dockyard, presented to the Senate on 28th September, 1927, be printed.

SenatorREID (Queensland) [11.31] - I approach the discussion of this motion with a feeling of deep regret because, contrary to my anticipations when the Line was founded, its operations have been most disastrous. I was strongly in favour of the establishment of the fleet not only as a war measure, but as a phase of governmental activity which I believed would be of immensebenefit to the people of Australia. All honorable senators are aware that an efficient shipbuilding industry plays a most important part in the development of a nation. I fondly imagined when the Line was established that it would be the nucleus of an important shipbuilding industry in Australia. Like myself, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) knows to what extent the shipbuilding yards on the Clyde have been responsible for the prosperity of the people in that portion of Great Britain. Those of us who favoured the establishment of the

Line fondly imagined that it would do for Australia what the shipbuilding industry has done for other countries. I was chairman of a royal commission appointed a few years ago to inquire into the affairs of the Cockatoo Island dockyard. Those investigations convinced me that the Australian artisan was second to none in the world, and I was satisfied then that under reasonably favourable circumstances the shipbuilding industry could be established in Australia. Unfortunately all my hopes were dashed to the ground. It is of no use for us to shut our eyes to the fact that the affairs of the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Line have been a complete failure. None of the advocates for the retention of the fleet has advanced cogent reasons why it should be continued. J know all that can be said in favour of the course, but the position of the Line, from an economic stand-point, is so unsound that it is impossible, under Australian conditions, to carry on the business successfully. I was accusedlast night of having changed my opinion concerning the proposal to dispose of the Line. It is with extreme regret that I admit the allegation.

Senator Lynch - The honorable senator believes that the Line has nothing to recommend it?

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