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Thursday, 26 May 1904


Mr McWILLIAMS (Franklin) - I am sure that the Postmaster-General will give the motion his careful consideration, for it cannot be denied that the residents of King Island are far removed from many of the ordinary privileges of civilization. The island is the largest in the straits, and its population, which consists of men who have made their homes and settled there, is undoubtedly a very deserving one. The land is fairly good. For grazing purposes it is all that could be desired, and as a matter of fact the settlers are now supplying the Launceston market with some of the finest fat stock that has ever been yarded there. This motion does not contemplate any interference with the direct mail and passenger service between Melbourne and Tasmania. The Kawatiri takes the northern course, and in voyaging between Melbourne and Strahan passes so close to the island that it can be plainly seen from her decks. Admittedly, neither of the harbors of King

Island is first-class, but as there is one on each side of it, the steamer would generally be able to get a lee, and it would rarely happen that she would be unable to land passengers and mails. Honorable Members would be surprised to learn the irregularity of the Straits mail service. If the Union Steam-ship Company would deliver a mail once a week, alternating with the present service, the islanders would secure a biweekly mail, and I am sure that the expenditure which this would involve would be comparatively small. I can assure the House that the honorable member for Darwin has not made one statement as to the condition of the residents on the island that is no"t absolutely correct. We have there some 600 or 700 people, and their only means of comunication with the mainland or Tasmania is the small steamer from Launceston, which certainly cannot be described as a high-class vessel.


Mr Bamford - Do they at present possess a weekly mail service?


Mr McWILLIAMS - Sometimes they do not have anything like a weekly mail. I would also remind the Minister that King Island should be the distributing centre for the whole of the islands in the- Straits. The mails for the other islands would be despatched from that point..


Mr Mahon - What is the population of the other islands?


Mr McWILLIAMS - The total population is, I think, considerably over 1,000.


Mr Mahon - If there is a population of 700 on. King Island, there must, therefore, be only about 300 persons on the other islands.


Mr McWILLIAMS - I do not think that there, are more. I feel satisfied that the Postmaster-General will be prepared to make inquiries, and to ascertain whether a reasonable service, at something like a moderate cost, cannot be secured for the islanders. If his inquiries show that it can, I trust that he will see that it is supplied. The House would readily agree to the slightly increased expenditure that would be necessary in order to extend the present mail facilities.







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