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Thursday, 15 April 1915

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - If a wireless station is established on King Island by the Postal Department at this juncture, Senator Long is altogether out of his reckoning in thinking that it will cost only £150 a year to maintain. It would cost very much more, because more than one operator would be required if the station were kept open throughout the twenty-four hours each day; and, in addition, every wireless station, for obvious reasons, has to be supplied with a military guard whilst the war lasts. Now the naval and military authorities say that there is absolutely no reason why a wireless station should be maintained on King Island for naval and military purposes. It therefore becomes purely a question for the Postal Department to say whether its existence is justified. We all know that a wireless station was in existence on King Island when the war broke out - it had been established there for scientific purposes - and being there we had to supply a military guard for it. The position is that the Postal authorities say they do not require the station for postal purposes - that it is too costly - and the naval and military authorities declare that they do not need it for naval and military purposes. They affirm that they have dismantled the other wireless stations throughout the Commonwealth, and that the obvious thing for them to do was to dismantle this one. There is no reason why we should keep a military guard there throughout the currency of the war, seeing that the station is not required. As to other privately-owned wireless stations, Senator Long has thrown some doubt on the answer given by me this afternoon. All I can say is that the general instruction was sent out that all privately-owned wireless stations were to be dismantled. That does not necessarily mean that the masts have been pulled down, but the effective wireless portions have been dismantled. I know of no case in which a private wireless station has been maintained. If there are any such stations, either they are being maintained without the knowledge of the naval and military authorities - which is extremely unlikely - or they are being maintained by those authorities for naval and military purposes. It may possibly be that there are some privatelyowned stations in the Commonwealth which are maintained for such purposes.

But the instruction to which I have referred has been issued, and that is why the station on King Island was demolished.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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