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Thursday, 2 August 1906

Senator BEST (Victoria) .- There are very many desirable alterations which I admit we should like to make in the articles of agreement. I suppose that a number of us sympathize with the desire of Senator Stewart, to bind the ships to call at certain ports, and with the contention of Senator Guthrie that cargo accommodation should be provided for. We should have been all the more satisfied if this had been not only a mail contract, but also a producecarrying contract.

Senator Dobson - Let us make it one.

Senator BEST - At the very beginning, every effort was made by the Government to achieve that object.

Senator Millen - Generally, it takes two parties to make a contract.

Senator BEST - Undoubtedly it does. If we impose terms to which the other side will not agree, there will be no contract.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - At this stage, we could not convert this into a producecarrying contract.

Senator BEST - Of course we could not.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - But the honorable senator said that provision ought to be made for cargo accommodation.

Senator BEST - Undoubtedly. What we are dealing with now is a mail contract alone. What is the use of Senator Dobson suggesting that it should be turned into a different class of contract? That would involve the rejection of the agreement.

Senator Guthrie - We do not want 1 1, 000-ton boats.

Senator BEST - If the amendment were incorporated it would become a different agreement, and certainly it would not be carried out. From the Minister we have an assurance that he did all he could to arrange for the boats to call at these ports, but that he failed to achieve that object.

We can readily understand that in order to secure the trade the boats will go to Melbourne and Sydney, and possibly to Brisbane. Surely Senator. Guthrie must realize that the boats will also provide cargo accommodation with the necessary refrigerating apparatus in order to secure the trade, and to compete with the other companies.

Senator Guthrie - They may compete for some trade other than the Australian trade.

Senator BEST - The honorable senator need not be apprehensive as to the provision of cool storage.

Senator Playford - We are absolutely assured by the contractors that they will provide an extraordinary amount of space for cool storage. *

Senator BEST - If that is the understanding, then, according to the terms of the agreement, it will be within the power of the Ministry to see that it is carried out when the plans of the ships are submitted for their approval.

Senator Guthrie - To carry mails !

Senator BEST - No; the plans of all new ships which have to be constructed have to be approved by the Ministry. The honorable senator may take it for granted that the company will provide ccol storage accommodation. If we desire to have the contract, let it be adopted as nearly as possible in its terms, and do not let us attempt to turn it into a mail and producecarrying contract.

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