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Thursday, 15 April 1915

Senator LONG (Tasmania) .- I wish to take advantage of the motion to call attention to what I believe to be a gross act of injustice on the part of this and previous Governments to the isolated people of King Island. For several years past, I and other members of the Senate have made constant representations on their behalf. Unfortunately, we could never get any declaration from the responsible Minister as to the probability of relieving the King Island people from their isolation by providing them with the required means of communication with the mainland or Tasmania. I had some hope that a Labour Government would be sufficiently alive to the wants of people so situated as are the people of King Island that they would be willing to incur the necessary expense to provide them with communication. In the statement which we have had presented to us, we are told that it is proposed to carry out the preliminary survey of a railway from the Port Augusta line to some point in Queensland, an undertaking that will possibly commit Australia to the expenditure of millions sterling. Yet. we cannot induce this Government, nor could we induce the previous Government, to undertake the very small expenditure necessary to provide the wire less communication with King Island which the residents of that island have been pleading for for years past.

Senator Blakey - Is King Island the only island in that position ?

Senator LONG - I know of no other in the same position. If Senator Blakey knows of any other people in the same condition of isolation as are the people of King Island, he has failed in his duty by not calling attention to their needs. When representations are made to the Government in connexion with the matter to which I am referring, we are told that it will be looked into, and that the Government will get reports. Then the old useless method of submitting the matter for report to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of Tasmania is followed. He instructs a subordinate to make a report. The subordinate officer makes a report. In due time it goes to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, and finally reaches the Minister through some of the officials of his Department, and the Minister acquiesces in the old practice of some of these highly paid officials not to interfere with existing conditions.

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