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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Mr WILKS (Dalley) .- The honorable member for Hindmarsh has moved as an amendment to mv amendment the addition of the words " in a Commonwealth Government dockyard," but I presume that he means that the vessels shall be constructed and docked under Commonwealth direction. I would point out to him that ships are docked, not in dockyards, but in docks, and are constructed, not in docks, but in dockyards. In Australia, we have both private docks and a State dock ; but I do not care whether the vessels performing this service are docked in a private or in the State dock. All I ask is, that they shall be docked in Australia. The Commonwealth doss not possess a dock, so that the intention of the honorable member for Hindmarsh could be carried into effect only by the construction of a Commonwealth dock, the purchase of one of the private docks, or the acquisition of the New South Wales Government dock. It would take about four years to construct a dock of the dimensions necessary for the docking of a vessel of the size of those which are to be used in the proposed service, and this service is to be begun within less than two years. Therefore, the honorable member's proposal is impracticable. Furthermore, if an attempt were made to carry it out, the jealousies of the States would al' once be aroused over the question of the situation of. the Commonwealth dock. The honorable member, moreover, seems not to have fully stated his intention. I presume he desires that these vessels shall be docked in a Commonwealth dock bv Commonwealth officers. To do that, we should have to create a special staff, although at the present time we do not' employ Commonwealth officials even for such small matters as the repairing of windows. If his amendment were carried as it stands, something similar to what occurs in New South Wales might take place. There the State leases its dock at so much a day, and private persons contract to carry out the repairs required by the vessels which are docked. No doubt, the honorable member, in moving the amendment, was 'as serious as I am, but while his proposal is impracticable, al! I ask is that the vessels shall be docked in Australia. I do not wish to make it impossible to perform the contract by absolutely insisting that they shall be built here, .though, sooner or later, we must commence ship-building operations on a large scale, and I should like the PostmasterGeneral to try to secure the building of one or two of these steamers in Australia.

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