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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr WILKS (Dalley) .- I am pleased to be able to support the proposed vote. I trust that the Government will arrange for the construction of the trawler in Australia. Although they declined to insert a provision in the mail contract that the proposed new mail steamers should be built in Australia, I hope that they will not refuse to give our artisans an opportunity of exhibiting their skill in connexion with the construction of the new fishing vessel. The proposed vote is similar to those which appear on some of the States Estimates for the purpose of encouraging prospecting, in connexion with the mining industry, and I shall be glad if the search for good fishing grounds is as successful as have been some of the efforts of the prospecting parties in their quest for valuable mineral deposits. That is my desire, but my judgment tells me that the proposed experiment will absolutely fail. In New South Wales, the president of the Fisheries Board, when he was a member of the local Legislature, took charge of a trawling expedition, and the Government placed a considerable sum at his disposal. Mr. Frank Farnell, the gentleman referred to, visited England with a view to forming a company to develop our deep-sea fisheries He had a series of interviews with the Fishmongers Guild of London, a very powerful corporation, but the members of that body were not inclined to invest their capital upon the strength of the flimsy information submitted to them. I would point out that within six weeks the fishing grounds off our coasts could be fully tested.

Mr Johnson - What, under adverse weather conditions?

Mr WILKS - Yes. In the case of the experiments carried on in New South Wales the steamer proved to be faulty, and, although the trawling appliances were quite up-to-date, they were frequently damaged by rough weather. The present leader of the Opposition, in common with myself, is very fond of deep-sea fishing, and he is probably aware that for the last fifteen years, the supply of fish along the Australian coast has been gradually diminishing. As a matter of fact, the best fishing grounds in Australasia are to be found upon the coast of New Zealand. Still,I do not wish to discourage the Government. Perhaps, if we consent to the proposed vote, we may prevent waste of money in the future, at the suggestion of a protectionist Government, which may desireto offer bonuses for the encouragement of deep-sea fishing. I am not so bigoted a free-trader that I would object to the Government arranging for the construction of the proposed trawler in my electorate. We are now passing through a period of political peace, and I am not such a flathead as to allow my electorate to pass unheeded when there is any loot to be obtained. I hope that the Minister will not follow the example of the present Minister of Trade and Customs, and decline to employ Australian artisans in the construction of the proposed steamer. There is no question as to the capability of our workmen, because I have in my electorate some of the most expert ironworkers in the whole of the British dominions.

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