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Thursday, 23 November 1905

Senator HIGGS (Queensland) - I move -

That there be laid on the table of the Senate all correspondence between the Pacific Cable Board and the Commonwealth Government having reference to a scheme for pooling receipts with the Eastern Extension Company.

I cannot see any reason why the Government should desire to keep this correspondence secret. What object can there be in secrecy? Surely the business is open and above-board ?

Senator Keating - I am informed that the Government have not the correspondence.

Senator HIGGS - If that be so, no correspondence can be laid on thy table. What led me to submit the motion was a paragraph which appeared in the Melbourne Age of the 21st of this month giving an account of an interview between a member of the Pacific Cable Board and the London correspondent of that newspaper, in reference to the pooling proposals. The paragraph is as follows: -

We did not pass any definite opinion on the proposal ; we simply submitted it to the Commonwealth Government for consideration, and asked Mr. Deakin to consult with the New Zealand Government. That was several months ago, and we have not yet received a statement of the Commonwealth's views.

If that report be correct, the Commonwealth Government received correspondence, several months ago, from the Pacific Cable Board, concerning the pooling scheme; and any correspondence ought to be open to our perusal. There has been a great deal too much secrecy about the negotiations in connexion with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company.

Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -

That the debate be now adjourned.

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