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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Mr FRAZER (Kalgoorlie) .- I think that the Attorney-General has successfully demolished the argument of the honorable member for Corinella. To say that because a particular Department has been selected' by the. Government to take power for the purchase of ships, that that must be the only Department to use those ships, and that they cannot be used for any other purpose than that associated with the Department, is as illogical as any argument that might be expected at any time from honorable members opposite.

Mr McCay - I said that it indicated the contemplated purpose.

Mr Deakin - The honorable member said the whole purpose.

Mr FRAZER - The honorable member for Corinella endeavoured to satisfy the House that the whole power that could be exercised by the British Government in purchasing ships through the Admiralty, was in the direction of defending Great Britain in a time of national danger. I do not -agree with the honorable member, and think that . the opinion expressed bv the Attorney-General is the reasonable one to adopt now. I wish to get away from the point whether or not we should adopt in this contract the exact language that has been employed by the British Government In its contracts, and to point out as shortly as possible the position occupied by the alleged friends of the producers, who sit in Opposition. During the last few days, we have heard nothing else from honorable members opposite except such demands as, " Where is the provision in this contract to protect the bone and sinew of this country, and to give our producers an opportunity to send their goods at reasonable freights to the markets of the world?" Now, however, we find the same gentlemen objecting to the resumption of this contract. Although I do not approve of paying £125,000 under this agreement, still, if the proposal under discussion were omitted, it would place the producers in the position of being probably the victims of a shipping monopoly in the near future.

Mr Johnson - Then this is a socialistic proposal ?

Mr FRAZER - I do not deny it. A provision to give the Government the right, when necessary, to take control of a line of steam-ships, in order to secure the peace, order, and good government of this country is, in my opinion, socialistic ; and I think it is a very desirable provision to have in legislation of this kind. The extraordinary position occupied by my honorable friends opposite lis demonstrated in their endeavour to strike out this provision, and it is a reasonable interpretation to place upon their conduct that they are prepared to allow our produce to be placed in the hands of any monopoly which may charge any rates it deems desirable, even to the extent of crippling the industries of this country.

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