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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) . - Judging from the remarks of the Minister, I should say that the proposal to vote this money is premature. The £10,000 seems to be for the one and only purpose of opening up communication with King Island.

Sir John Forrest - New Guinea, too.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - That would not appear so from the information we have been given. There is already cable communication with Tasmania, and yet it is intended to establish a wireless telegraphy station so as to touch King Island. Until vessels have this installation, there is no necessity to vote this money. The large ocean steamers may find sufficient stations on the voyage to warrant their installing the plant, and when that has been done, there will be time enough for us to move in the matter. If this money is intended to give encouragement to some people or companies who are experimenting, we ought to remember that they have come out to Australia for business, and ought to take the risks. On the occasion of the recent visit to Queenscliff, I heard some rather florid speeches on the advantage of the system from the gentlemen who entertained us, but all he said only went to show that our installation would be of no use until the ships are fitted with the necessary appliances. King Island is a most insignificant place, which' certainly does not warrant this expenditure, and I hope that the Minister, after consideration, will decide to strike out the item. The Minister himself has informed us that there are now three or four systems, and that the Government are not satisfied that the Marconi system is the best. My own opinion is that the northern part of Australia, where there are very dangerous waters, would present the best opening for wireless telegraphy. There vessels are likely to meet with disaster, and the svstem would be of importance in the case of the approach of an enemy.

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