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Thursday, 2 August 1906

Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales) . - I trust that not much more time will be spent in debating this point. The proposal to add these ports of call is really tantamount to a proposal to put the contract into the waste-paper basket. When I look at the articles of agreement, I am quite surprised at the unbusiness-like character of certain of the proposals from the point of view of the contractors. I do not think that we should risk what is now offered. I say that with very keen regret, on account of the probability - almost the certainty - that we shall shortly lose the services of the Orient Steam Navigation Company for the carriage of our mails. I do not like to see an old servant - a company that has faithfully for many years, during hard times, and with little remuneration, performed its duties - terminate its connexion with the Commonwealth.

Senator Pearce - Is this a requiem over the Orient Steam Navigation Company?

Senator PULSFORD - I believe, however, that the proposals made are, from a business point of view, eminently in the interests of the Commonwealth, and I do not imagine that! any honorable senator will spend much time in discussing such proposals as are now made.

Senator Clemons - The honorable senator comes from New South Wales, where the vessels will go.

Senator PULSFORD - I am prepared to rely upon the attractions of New South Wales to draw the vessels there, and think that the 'Brisbane people should dothe same. As to the question of tonnage, about which Senator Guthrie has made some remarks, I ask him to remember that high speed implies great tonnage, and it is because we want high speed that these large vessels are found necessary.

Senator Clemons - I do not think that that is correct.

Senator PULSFORD - It may not be correct in the case of vessels that travel along the coast, or go over to Tasmania, but it is necessary in the case of vesselsthat are built to travel over practically half the world. We find that on the Atlantic the vessels that travel between twenty and thirty miles an hour are of immense tonnage. The larger the tonnage the higher the speed is the general rule for mail . vessels, and that is the reason why we are to have large vessels on this service. I do not trouble very much a"bout the term " 11,000 tons registered tonnage." The .provision is drawn loosely and improperly, but I have no doubt that it means gross tonnage. But that is one of the articles that I point out as being loosely drawn from the contractors' point of view. I believe that, on a strictly legal interpretation, the term 11,000 tons might be construed to mean net tonnage, which would require vessels of SUCH large tonnage that they could not come through the Suez: Canal.

Senator Pearce - That would be the contractors' loss, not ours.

Senator PULSFORD - That is what I say. It is the contractors who stand tolose in that respect.

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