Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 8 December 1905

Mr KNOX (Kooyong) - I understand that the amendment really puts into plain language what was previously provided for in the agreement, and that three months must still elapse before we shall know our exact position. I should like some assurance from the Minister that the present unsatisfactory condition of affairs in connexion with Pacific Cable business will not be permitted to continue. Nothing whatever has been done to adopt business methods, and as we are losing money every day, I think that the period of inaction should be brought to an end without further delay.

Mr Austin Chapman - It will be.

Mr KNOX - I want to feel assured that the interests of the taxpayers will be conserved to a greater extent than in the past, and that business energy will be infused into the management, and approved methods will be adopted in the prosecution of the interests of the company. I think the public are entitled to know the results of the Conference that was recently held in London, and how soon we may look for an improvement in local matters.

Mr. BATCHELOR(Boothby).- The answer given by the Postmaster-General to the honorable member for Kooyong indicates that he is going to prosecute with greater vigour the interests of the Pacific Cable as against those of the Eastern Extension Company. I would remind him thathe is the Postmaster-General of the Commonwealth, and not of the States, which are contracting parties so far as the Pacific Cable is concerned. Pending the final acceptance of the contract, the PostmasterGeneral must recollect that he is the representative of the States that are interested in the long land lines which connect the cables of the Eastern Extension Company, and that all the business which, owing to the influence of the Government, is diverted to the Pacific Cable, will be gained at the expense of South Australia. The interests of that State, therefore, should not be forgotten. I ask the PostmasterGeneral to exercise his functions with absolute fairness towards those who may be injured by an access of business to the Pacific Cable as well as towards those who may be benefited by it. Until the separate interests that now exist have been amalgamated, the Postmaster-General should not unduly influence business in either direction.

Mr Knox - So far, no business methods have been adopted in pushing the interests of the Pacific Cable.

Mr BATCHELOR - I want to know whether the Pacific Cable business is to be pushed at the expense of South Australia. We cannot complain of fair competition, but we have every right to object to action such as was taken by a previous Government with the result' that all telegrams regarding which no stipulation was made as to route were forwarded by the Pacific Cable. It seems to me that in that case undue advantage was taken of the small - ness of the representation of South Australia in this House. The three States which are interested in the success of the Pacific Cable have by far the greater representation in this Chamber, and it behoves members from the other three States to see that no injustice is inflicted. I would ask the Postmaster-General, whilst prosecuting the interests of the Pacific Cable, not to injure South Australia.

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported.

Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) proposed -

That the report be adopted.

Mr. KNOX(Kooyong). - I made a specific request for information, and I think we are entitled to some statement from the Postmaster-General.

Mr. AUSTINCHAPMAN (EdenMonaro - Postmaster-General). - We shall do everything that we can to place the business of the Pacific Cable upon a commercial basis without doing anything to injure South Australia. That is the attitude which the Government take up. We recognise that, so far as the Pacific Cable is concerned, our interests have not been looked after as they might have been, and after the ratification of this agreement, we shall endeavour to place matters on a more satisfactory footing.

Suggest corrections