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Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) . - I desire to refer to the matter of a subsidy paid to John Burke Limited, an enterprise which maintains a service in the Northern Territory from the Albert River to the Macarthur and Roper Rivers with the auxiliary ketch Noosa. I have a copy of a letter which this company has addressed to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson), asking for the reinstatement of a subsidy of £2,000, which was formerly granted to the company by the Commonwealth to assist it in carrying on shipping services between the river ports of the Northern Territory. This sum of £2,000 was the Commonwealth's share of a subsidy of £6,000, the balance of which was contributed by the Government of Queensland. The letter states -

At the end of five years the Commonwealth discontinued its portion of the subsidy . . . in spite of this we carried on the service at £4,000 without in any way increasing freight rates. . . . We are submitting for your consideration that your Government again subsidizesour Gulf service, and in return for the first £1,000 subsidy, we will reduce freight 20s. a ton, and for the second, a further 20s. a ton, with the exception in the second case that these present special rates will not be affected beyond the first reduction.

The letter further points out that the development of the Northern Territory depends on transport at a reasonable cost, and if this can be provided, population will be attracted. Will the Minister explain the attitude of the Government towards the request for the reinstatement of this subsidy?

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