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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Senator KEATING (TASMANIA) (Ministerwithout portfolio) - I have conferred with the Postmas.ter-General. and have learned from him and from the Department that the question of calling for new tenders has received his earnest attention, and that it is now engaged in prosecuting a large number of inquiries for the purpose of obtaining information which is absolutely required before it can frame the conditions. That information is not expected to be to hand before, at the earliest, the end of this month, and it will not be possible to frame the conditions before the beginning of the new year, even if bv then. Under the circumstances, it will be impossible to lay upon the table the conditions on which the tenders for a new mail service will be called.

Senator MILLEN - Arising out of that reply, I desire to ask whether, in view of its resolution, the Government will give the Senate an assurance that a tender will not be accepted until it has had an opportunity of considering the tenders ?

Senator KEATING - I am not in a position to give that assurance, because if the Government call for tenders, and are able to establish what they may consider a satisfactory service, it may be necessary for them to act before the Parliament reassembles.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator knows that his colleague will have to give three or four months' notice.

Senator KEATING - Quite so.

Senator Millen - Surely the Parliament will have reassembled before that notice has expired !

Senator KEATING - I am not in a position to give the assurance for which the honorable senator asks.

Senator Millen - It looks to me like an attempt to get round the resolution.

Senator KEATING - I can assure the honorable senator that there is not the slightest desire to do that. If he knew as much about the present position of affairs-

Senator Millen - But. the Minister will not tell us.

Senator KEATING - I am not in a position to give to any honorable senator some of the information in connexion with this matter ; but I will say that the Government are respecting in spirit and letter the resolution of the Senate.

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