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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) . - As a Queenslander, I am very much surprised at the attitude which has been taken up by the honorable member for Oxley. I was shocked to hear the language which he employed. I have consistently fought to insure that the mail steamers shall make Brisbane a port of call, and I am annoyed that the honorable member should have made the accusations which he has, levelled1 against the Commonwealth. The adoption of such tactics is not calcu lated to induce honorable members to assist us to achieve our object. I have already spoken upon this question, and have practically said' all that I desire to say. Last evening the Prime Minister detailed the steps which had1 been taken to induce the other States to enter into an arrangement with the contractors regarding the export of perishable products. He pointed out the possibilities of Australia in. that connexion. To my mind, the very fact that the vessels which are to be employed under the proposed contract are to possess a "registered tonnage" of 11,000 tons, suggests that the contractors have more in view than the mere carriage of mails. No shipbuilding firm would1 construct vessels of that capacity merely for the purpose of carrying mails. I have already wired to the Premier of Queensland, asking him not to negotiate any further with the Prime Minister, or with Mr. Croker, who is acting as agent for Sir James Laing and Sons, in regard to the proposal that the mail steamers shall call at Brisbane. I trust that he will not renew the subsidy which Queensland is at present paying to the Orient Steam Navigation Company. Of course, we , cannot find fault with the vessels calling at Fremantle and Adelaide. But the Government know perfectly well that it is impossible for the steamers to neglect calling at Melbourne and Sydney. Personally, I fail to see how Queensland will benefit by the proposed contract. I do not think that that State has very much to thank the Commonwealth for, so far as this agreement is concerned. I do hope that the PostmasterGeneral - even at this late hour - will endeavour to induce the vessels under the new service to visit Brisbane.

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