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Thursday, 23 November 1905

Senator HIGGS (Queensland) - I move -

That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the agreement between the Government and Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, having reference to Pacific Island Mail Services.

Here is another example. I have been informed that the Government were not fully seized of the contents of this particular motion when they called "not formal." I gave notice of the motion some days ago, and, believing it to be a purely formal matter, I called " formal " to it. The representatives of the Government called " not formal," because they were not fully seized at the moment of what it meant, and thought it might give rise to some trouble. I hope there will be no objection to placing this agreement, if there is such an agreement, on the table. I hope the Minister will tell the Senate whether there is an agreement with Burns, Philp, and Company. This agreement, which was discussed in the Senate some time ago, and which some of us considered unconstitutional, 'for the payment of £12,000 to a certain company for carrying mails, should have been available long ago. I- hope that a full explanation of the circumstances will be given.

Senator Clemons - Can the honorable senator make any statement about the agreement as to whether it has been made or not?

Senator HIGGS - I cannot. I should like the Minister to make that statement, to tell us whether the agreement has been prepared; whether it contains the clauses which it was promised it would contain concerning the rate of freight, passenger fares, and so forth ; and when it was signed.

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