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Tuesday, 19 July 1904

Mr ROBINSON (Wannon) - I merely wish to say that I accept, without reservation, the statement made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, to the effect that the sworn evidence given before the Chief Justice of Western Australia as to the excess of receipts over disbursements by Messrs. Mcllwraith, McEacharn, and Company, possibly did not show the true profit earned by that company in Western Aus tralia. I think, however, that, in justice to myself, I should place before the Committee the further fact that Messrs. McIlwraith, McEacharn, and Company, and a number of other local shipping companies, receive large sums of money at Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, and other ports of the Commonwealth, and that their profits are very substantial. The honorable and learned member for Angas has made a calculation, which, I think", we may accept as accurate, that over a number of years the profits earned by the local steam-ship companies have ranged above 30 per cent. I have no objection to the local steam-ship companies making a profit of 30 or 50, or even 1,000 per cent., but I do object to those who are making very large- profits coming to Parliament and stating that some trifling competition, to which they are subjected, constitutes a serious menace to their existence. That is the attitude which I have assumed. I object to those who are doing a flourishing business saying that, unless we shut out from the Inter -State trade these great ocean companies, which have done so much for Australia, they will be ruined. I had no thought of making any reference to Sir Malcolm McEacharn, but I noticed that he stated yesterday that if he had been in this House he certainly would have voted against the inclusion of the proposed new clauses in the Bill. Therefore, we may take it that not only the great ocean steamship companies, but also a number of the local companies, object to these clauses.

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