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Thursday, 26 May 1904

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member for Darwin would do well to accept the amendment, because it gives him what he asks for.

Mr.O'Malley. - I accept it.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If carried as amended, the motion will express the general consensus of honorable members as to the desirability of providing the mail service asked for. Unquestionably it can and should be provided. We have already agreed to subsidise a wealthy steam-ship proprietary in order to obtain better communication with the New Hebrides and other islands which lie outside the Commonwealth, whereas King Island is part of the Commonwealth. The residents there are, by force of circumstances, excluded from . the ordinary means of communication enjoyed by those in other places, and, seeing that they now number 600 or 700 persons, we should do all we can to improve their means of . communication with the mainland, and with Tasmania. I have been on King Island, and, while I cannot describe it as one of the finest places in Australia, it is quilt possible that, with better communication, it would be largely resorted to by tourists. Many of us have already intimated that we are agreeable to the policy of bringing the various parts of the Commonwealth as much in touch as is possible. No doubt when the Navigation Bill comes under consideration, the Postmaster-General will be ready to relax certain of its provisions in order that there shall be no interference with the communication between Western Australia and the eastern States. I do not say that that will be wrong ; in my opinion it has a good deal to 'recommend it. Similarly, we should not overlook the claims of an important island lying so near the mainland as does King Island. The other branch of the Legislature, some time ago, instituted an inquiry as to the best means of improving the communication between the mainland and the island State of Tas mania. There is a great deal to be said for that. The steam-ship company which now does so large a part of the trade between Tasmania and the mainland could easily make a visit to King Island a side trip for one of its vessels. I do not say that it is necessary to have a vessel callingthere frequently, but, as the residents of the island consume a large quantity of goods, and, "therefore, pay a considerable amount of taxation to the Commonwealth, they should be considered in this matter. I do not think any great expense would be involved in providing the inhabitants

Of King Island with means of access to the other States. If such facilities were afforded, they would tend to the development of the island, and probably result in its becoming a popular health resort. Although King Island is not what I should call the most charming place in Australia, there is no doubt that it is one of the healthiest. I spent the most miserable day of my existence there. I was on board a weather-bound ship, and, therefore, saw the place under the worst possible circumstances. I had to help the sailors to carry sheep down to the ship, because we had run out of food. I think that if we can do anything to bring the inhabitants into more direct contact with the people of the mainland we shall be justified in incurring a small expenditure with that object. If King Islandwere divided from the great centres of population by a desert, similar to those which exist in the interior of Australia, instead of by sea, it would be considered necessary to provide it with postal facilities, even though the cost involved might be considerable. Therefore, I do not think that the inhabitants of the Island should be placed at any disadvantage. Ships already trade along routes which pass very near it, and they would require to make only a slight detour in order to call there. Theywould not need to go out of theirway "for the purpose of conveying mails only, because the Island yields a certain amount of produce, which has to be sent to the mainland, and the inhabitants require stores, which have to be brought to them from the mainland or Tasmania. Therefore, a certain amount of tradewould be carried on by anyvesselswhich called there, and Ave should only require to pay such a. sum aswould compensate theowners for the expense of maintaining a regular service for the conveyance of mails. I have great pleasure in supporting the motion.

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