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Thursday, 26 May 1904

Mr O'MALLEY (Darwin) - I move-

That, in view of the enormous increase of the population of King Island and the magnitude of its agricultural and commercial importance (the island lying midway between the States of Victoria and Tasmania), in the opinion of this Housethe Postmaster-General should make arrangements with the Union Steam-ship Company for its steamer plying between Melbourne and'

Strahan, Tasmania, to call at King Island and to stay there long enough to deliver the mails at Currie Harbor or Sea Elephant Bay.

As this motion is not of a contentiousnature. and has little relation to politics, I think that it may very well be agreed to without much debate. The facts of the case are that King Island lies abou midway between Melbourne and Strahan, and is situated in the middle of Bass Straits. It has become a very important place, and possesses a population of 600 or 700. These people have no communication with the mainland or Tasmania, save that which is afforded by a sort of antiquated tub, which plies between Launceston and the Island. Settlers there never know when this vessel wll arrive, and when it will depart. Yet the steamer Kawathi, belonging to the Union Steamship Company, travels from Melbourne to Strahan weekly, and passes within six miles of Sea Elephant Bay. I desire the Postmaster-General to endeavour . to arrive at some business arrangement with that company, which will enable its vessels to remain long enough at Sea Elephant Bay, or Wickham, to land the mails. If the winds were unfavorable at one place, the mails could be landed at the other. They could then be carried on horseback to Currie Harbor, which is the chief centre on the island. This island has an important pastoral interest, and contains good fattening country. Indeed, some of the finest cattle come from there. The settlers are all pioneers, really hard workers, and substantial citizens of the Commonwealth. For a small additional expenditure on the part of the Postal authorities, these people would be enabled to send their produce to Melbourne, and to obtain a regular mail service. During the recent election campaign, I was unable to reach King Island, and none of the candidates could address the electors there.

Mr Mcwilliams - The ballot-papers did not arrive there in time for polling day.

Mr O'MALLEY - That is quite correct. The polling had to be postponed until the day after that which was originally fixed for the election, because the boat, which at present runs there, did not reach the island in time.

Mr Crouch - What expense will be involved by the adoption of this motion?

Mr O'MALLEY - It will not be much, because a steamer belonging to the Union Company passes within six miles of the island twice a week. By steering another course, that distance would in reality not require to be covered.

Mr Conroy - Is there any mining conducted upon the island?

Mr O'MALLEY - It is becoming a very, important mining place.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - It seems to be the " hub of the universe."

Mr O'MALLEY - I claim that the population settled upon the island should be given every possible encouragement. The motion, which I have, submitted, really takes the form of a suggestion. It is not mandatory.

An Honorable Member. - Is there a harbor at King Island ?

Mr O'MALLEY - There is a harbor at Currie, but the steamers will not go there. All I ask is that an arrangement shall be made with the Union Company under . which its vessel will enterSea Elephant Bay, and land the mails in a boat.

An Honorable Member. - Can that be done ?

Mr O'MALLEY - I am informed so by a captain who has been there. Personally, I have not visited the locality. I would not risk my life in the Yambacoona. I trust that the Postmaster-General will see his way to communicate with the Union Steam Ship "Company, and ascertain what can be done.

Sir John Forrest - How many people are settled upon the island?

Mr O'MALLEY - About 600.

Sir John Forrest - How often do they receive their mails?

Mr O'MALLEY - Once a week. The island is only six miles out of the ordinary route followed by steamers trading regularly between Melbourne and Strahan, and can be clearly seen from her decks.

Mr Conroy - Would the steamer be able to land mails and passengers there?

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