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Friday, 28 October 1904

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - I listened to the Treasurer in the expectation that he would afford us information which would justify the proposed expenditure; but no facts have been presented to induce me to support the increase of the subsidy. I am entirely opposed to any additional expenditure by the Commonwealth at the present time. The finances of Queensland are in a very unsatisfactory condition, owing to the extent to which her share of the Customs revenue has been appropriated for Commonwealth purposes. The proposed increase of the subsidy is absolutely unnecessary, and I cannot see any reason why we should take upon ourselves the duty of maintaining strategical positions for the special benefit of the Empire. If any action be necessary in that direction, it should be undertaken by Great Britain. In view of the urgent necessity for studying the financial interests of the various States, I cannot understand the anxiety of the Treasurer to commit the Commonwealth to a further outlay. I do not see how we are to derive any advantage from any trade that may grow up between the Islands and the Commonwealth. One of the principal products of the New Hebrides is maize, upon which we impose a duty, and it seems ridiculous on our part to offer encouragement to the settlers on that island to grow produce which would compete with that which is raised by our own farmers. The chances are that the greater number of the settlers in the New Hebrides have little or nothing in common with the citizens of Australia,, and I certainly should not look with an approving eye upon any project that was intended to offer inducements for Australians to leave the Commonwealth and settle in the islands. We are endeavouring to attract people to our shores, and to induce them to settle upon our own lands. On 26th September, 1902, the Minister of Home Affairs, speaking upon the subject of the mail service to the islands, said -

I feel justified in saying that, although settlement and trade are increasing, no profit has resulted from their efforts, notwithstanding that they obtain a subsidy. I admit that as soon as the service can rest on its own bottom the subsidy should be withdrawn.


Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - The question is, when will that time arrive. We are now being called upon to increase the subsidy by £6,000, and I want to know where this is to end?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If we desire an increased service, we must increase the subsidy.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - Honorable members opposite are in favour of granting a subsidy of £12,000 to a company like Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co., whereas they have expressed the strongest objection to offering a bonus for the encouragement of the iron industry, which would employ hundreds of persons, as compared with the very few individuals who would be benefited in connexion with the island mail service. The inhabitants of the islands would derive no advantage, except, perhaps, a slightly better mail service than they now enjoy. Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. would; probably continue to conduct the present service, whether a subsidy were granted or not, because they have interests in the islands, which they could not afford to neglect. I am entirely opposed to any increase of expenditure under present conditions.

Mr Robinson - Even in connexion with sugar bonuses?

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - I am not very much in favour . of bonuses of anv kind. I cannot forget that a portion of the increased expenditure will fall upon Queensland. I intend to record my vote against the proposal.

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