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Thursday, 2 August 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I move -

That the Committee have leave to sit again to-morrow.

The consideration of this contract was begun at the earliest opportunity this week, and, of course, to-morrow will be our last day of sitting in this week. Tor some time the terms of the contract have been under the consideration of the members of each House, if not legislatively, at any rate privately. The contractors are at some distance from the scene of our deliberations, and they can only receive information by cablegram. From communications which have been received from the contractors, I have every reason to assume that they are informed to the effect that their capacity .to fulfil the terms of this contract has been, very seriously canvassed both inside and outside the Parliament of Australia. With regard to the amendments which it was indicated would be made in the Senate, arid the amendments which have been made elsewhere, the Government have taken the precaution in each instance of securing in advance the signature of the representative of the contractors thereto, so that under no circumstances could it be said afterwards that the adoption of the amendments was a ground for them to abandon the contract.

Senator Dobson - Are we to make no amendment's of which Mr. Croker does not approve ?

Senator KEATING - I donotsay that. So far the policy of the Government has been to get an indorsement of any amendment before it has been approved, because it is quite possible that, upon the adoption of certain amendments, it might be open to the contractors to retire from the position they have taken up.

Senator Dobson - Let them retire, if they want to do so.

Senator Lt Col Gould - It might be a very good thing for them to retire.

Senator KEATING - And it might be very bad for us. I am pointing out these natters for the consideration of honorable senators.

Senator Clemons - That suggests an inquiry into the nature of the bond.

Senator KEATING - The Government instructed its representative in London to make certain inquiries, and the result of them is most satisfactory.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia) [10.53]. - I think that we all reciprocate the Minister's desire that the consideration of this contract should be pushed on with, and I am quite sure that be will have no reason to complain in that respect. He must take a lenient view if he is in a critical humour, because, although . the contract was under consideration elsewhere for a good long while, it has only been under active consideration here since yesterday afternoon. I think that a little consideration must be given to the Senate.

Senator Keating - We should like to get the contract dealt with in, this week.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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