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Wednesday, 4 October 1911
Page: 1026

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - Surely the Minister can give us further information on this point. I do not know whether at present ships trading between Australia and New Zealand carry medical practitioners. If they do not there must be some reason why they do not. The Minister asks us to impose these burdens upon the ground of humanity; and as a recognition of the claims' of passengers who have to undertake voyages exceeding a certain distance. But I would like him to give us some concrete illustration of the reasons which underlie the proposed change. There may be reasons why medical practitioners should be carried upon vessels which trade from Adelaide as far as Fremantle. If the new departure be a humane or necessary one, nobody will complain ; but it must be patent to every honorable senator that, in clause after clause of this Bill, we are adding to the expense of carrying on shipping to such an extent that I fear sea travelling will become a luxury which is denied to the working classes.

Senator Rae - It is pretty well that now.

Senator ST LEDGER - Surely, where it is proposed to make such an important change, the Minister will not content himself with merely saying, " We desire that this shall be done." Some reasons must underlie the proposed change, and I hope that the Minister will tell us what they are.

Senator Pearce - I have nothing to add to what I have already said.

Senator ST LEDGER - Then the Minister is asking us to make this change upon a very broad ground, and without giving us specific reasons.

Senator Story - The honorable senator's own intelligence ought to show him the necessity which exists for it.

Senator ST LEDGER - If I were endowed with the gigantic intelligence of the honorable senator, no doubt I should grasp the reasons for the change. But it is quite possible that I can grip some of the elementary reasons for it, which lie at the back of the heads of Ministers.

Senator de Largie - Give up this " stonewall."

Senator ST LEDGER - I am not " stone-walling." The Opposition have specially refrained from indulging in such tactics. No doubt the remark of the honorable senator was made merely with a view to provoking a retort. I regret that the Minister of Defence has not been able to assign any specific reasons for the proposed change.

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