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Thursday, 2 August 1906

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - I move -

That all the words after " That " be left out. -with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - " in the interests of the producers, no mail-ships' contract should be let by the Commonwealth Government until there is a guarantee as to the cool storage to be provided, the maximum freight to be charged, and a guarantee as to maximum temperature, so as to insure the effective preservation of produce shipped."

I do not intend to proceed with the second part of the amendment, ofwhich I have given notice, providing that the contract shall not be assigned to any. speculative or other company, and that Parliament alone shall sanction any proposed assignment of the contract, because the Minister has already stated that part of that provision has been agreed to.

Senator Best - I think the honorable senator makes a mistake when he says that the Minister has accepted the second portion of the amendment which he has circulated.

Senator GUTHRIE - He has accepted a part of it. The Minister in his opening speech yesterday read correspondence from every one of the States of the Commonwealth, in which the States Governments were rather indefinite as to whether they would take any responsibility with a view to assist the producers in connexion with the Commonwealth mail contract. If the States Governments do not know their duty to the producers, let us show that the Commonwealth Government, at any rate, have the interests of the producers in mind.

Senator Best - This amendment would clearly burst up the agreement.

Senator GUTHRIE - I question that.

Senator Best - It must. '

Senator Staniforth Smith - The matter of cool storage should have been mentioned in the tenders.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - The honorable senator's amendment would negative the agreement.

Senator GUTHRIE - Well, if it does-

Senator Lt Col Gould - So much the worse.

Senator GUTHRIE - So much the worse for the producers of the Commonwealth if the agreement is ratified without such an amendment. When, two years ago, the Commonwealth Government called for tenders for the carriage of mails between Australia and Europe, we inserted a condition that the vessels should supply a certain amountof space for cool storage. On this occasion tenderers, no doubt, had it in their minds that absolutely the same conditions would be required of them.

Senator Staniforth Smith - No.

Senator Turley - They knew the conditions under which they tendered.

Senator GUTHRIE - Why should it not have been in their minds ? There are other conditions which the Minister himself said in his speech that it was not necessary to insert, because they were in previous contracts. Some time ago a Royal Commission was appointed by the State of Victoria to inquire into the butter industry. It was found that the producers of Australia were being bled, not only by the ship-owners, butby agents. The revelations were so strong that, on application being made to the Commonwealth Government, it said, We will make this a Royal Commission!."

Senator Staniforth Smith - That was only in order that evidence might be taken in two States.

Senator GUTHRIE - The Royal Commission has since reported. What was the effect of its reports? Its first report was signed on the 2nd November, 1904. A further report was issued on the 24th January, 1905. In those reports the Commissioners absolutely state that it is essential that any mail contracts that are made shall contain provisions for the carriage of produce from Australia to London. If the States neglect their duty to the producers in this respect, that is no reason why the Commonwealth Government should fail in its duty.

The CHAIRMAN - I hesitate to interrupt the honorable senator, but it appears to me that his amendment is, at this stage, contrary to the understanding at which we have arrived - that we should take the motion of the Minister, and make in the articles under consideration, in their proper order, any amendment that it was desired to introduce. If Senator Guthrie wishes to provide that accommodation shall be furnished for cool storage, he can at a convenient stage move to that effect. But if I allow the honorable senator to move the amendment to which he has been addressing himself as an amendment to the motion of the Minister, I shall also have to permit a number of other amendments. That would lead to a departure from the plan which has been suggested and adopted by the Committee. I urge the honorable senator to accept mv suggestion that we should deal with article 1. If no honorable senator has any amendment to submit we shall pass the article, and proceed with others, until we come to that stage when

Senator Guthriewishes to insert an amendment providing for cool storage.

Senator GUTHRIE - I am prepared toaccept your suggestion, Mr. Chairman. I do not care where the amendment is made, as long as I get it in. The last paragraph in article 1 of the general conditions of tender reads as follows: -

The term "Adelaide" shall mean the signalling station (known as " Adelaide Semaphore ") at or off the port of the city of Adelaide in South Australia, until the outer harbor is completed and available.

The CHAIRMAN - We shall deal first with article 1 of the articles of agreement, not with article 1 of the general conditions of tender.

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