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Wednesday, 23 March 1966

Mr SPEAKER - I realise that, and that is why T have been tolerant.

Mr DUTHIE - You should have been here. Sir, during an earlier part of the debate.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I have every confidence in my colleagues.

Mr DUTHIE - Before I am completely torpedoed on this, I want to say that in the last three years - this is my final sentence on it - more than 100 overseas ships - British, Scandinavian, Japanese, Liberian, Panamanian and two from India - have been chartered to carry phosphate from the Australian trust territory in Nauru to Australia. We have no ships of our own to do this. It is a scandalous state of affairs, and the sooner a Labour Government takes over in Canberra and hurries up the establishment of an overseas shipping line the better it will be for our economy as a whole.

I am not finished yet, Mr. Speaker, you will be sorry to know. I have received the interesting information that the Australian National Line has a ship being prepared to carry 9,000 tons of billet steel to Hong Kong. I think the Minister or one of his colleagues mentioned this today. The ship will sail from Port Kembla next month. He said that this is being done only because the ship can get backloading from Yampi Sound around to Adelaide on the way home. Otherwise it would have to come home in ballast. That is a scandalous state of affairs. Are the ships we charter to take goods to overseas countries prevented from bringing back cargo? Is there some kind of pact between the private shipping companies trading between Australia and overseas and the Government or the Australian National Line that the A.N.L. must not carry cargo back if it takes cargo out.

Mr Freeth - It can get any cargo that is available.

Mr DUTHIE - It is strange that the ship would have to come back in ballast if it could not get this cargo from Yampi Sound.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I thought the honorable member was going to come back to the Bill.

Mr DUTHIE - I will not mention that matter any more. I desire to make some comments on the " Princess of Tasmania ". I am on my home ground now. I might mention that this is an historic occasion for Tasmania. On last Saturday night, the 19th March, the "Princess of Tasmania" completed her 2,000th crossing of Bass Strait in six and a half years. In this time she steamed 464,000 miles, equivalent to 1 8,560 times around the world at the equator. She has carried just over 500,000 passengers between Victoria and Tasmania in that time. She has completed three round trips a week in foul weather and in fair weather. It is interesting to note that she did not miss one scheduled crossing of the Strait in all those years. This is a wonderful performance for a ship. She has completed a constant programme in all weathers without missing one scheduled trip. She carries 333 passengers in a full load and more than 100 vehicles, including many vehicles we call prime movers. These huge trucks are now on our Tasmanian roads to such an extent that the Tasmanian Government must spend thousands of pounds in widening and strengthening our highways so that they can take the heavy vehicles. We do not mind this trade, but it does seem a pity that the owners of the vehicles do not pay us any registration fee towards the cost of maintaining our roads. However, as you know, Mr. Speaker, section 92 of the Constitution permits free trade between the States and we cannot impose any charge on these people coming from the mainland. The " Princess of Tasmania " has revolutionised the tourist trade between the mainland and our island and has also changed the pattern of transportation. I pay a sincere tribute tonight to the Captain and crew and all the men and women who have travelled with this vessel throughout the years and so have maintained the service between the mainland and Tasmania and to all who built her.

Mr Benson - The honorable member should refer to Psalm 106.

Mr DUTHIE - That would be a good note on which to finish. I am sure that a decision to build another Bass Strait ferry would not be erroneous. An additional vessel would be a tremendous help to our island and to the mainland and would help to build up a fleet of passenger ships that would be second to none anywhere in the world. The new vessel would provide modern accommodation and incorporate new techniques. We feel that with the additional vessel Tasmania would be very well served. We hope that we will have a Christmas present and will be told that plans for the new ship have been completed and the keel has been laid. I would not mind even if the Minister laid the keel.

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