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Wednesday, 25 July 1906

Mr HIGGINS (NORTHERN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) . - This debate, although long, has not been unduly protracted, having regard to the importance of the subject, and more particularly to the very grave and novel departure in the direction of the establishment of a State-owned line of mail steamers, which is proposed by the honorable member for Barrier. That project would involve the expenditure of , £3,000,000 or£4,000,000, since at least eight steam-ships would be necessary. Having regard to the distance of Australia from Europe, mail contracts are of greater concern to us than they are to any other country, and we could scarcely give too much attention to what is being done in connexion with them. I confess that when I read the contract I began to be very suspicious. I thought that the terms were too good to be true. The contract orovides for a speedier service at a cost only slightly in excess of that provided for under the existing agreement. I recognise that the honorable member for Barrier and his colleagues upon the Shipping Commission have rendered the community a very great service by investigating the whole question of the conditions relating to the carriage of our mails, and of the best means of serving the people of Australia in that respect. But I say. without hesitation, thatI intend to vote against the amendment, because it would involve the credit of the Commonwealth 10 the extent of£3,000,000 or £4,000,000, and because to borrow money for a project of that sort would be one of the worst evils that could befall us.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - What about the Western Australia railway? No project could be worse than that.

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