Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 6 September 1906

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) . - I hope that the vote for wireless telegraphy will not be reduced by £5,000. If the Committee is not inclined to agree to it as it stands, I would rather see it knocked out altogether. Wireless telegraphy is, comparatively speaking, new. I wish to submit an illustration to those senators who are constantly telling us that the Commonwealth should do things on commercial lines. If there were a very large business, having dozens of departments, and if suddenly a new line were introduced, and a sum of money were required to open up business in connexion with it, in the nature of things very little information could be obtained as to the amount necessary to . undertake the new work profitably. But suppose the firm had a manager in whom the directors had a fair amount of confidence. The probability is that they would say to him, " This new line of business may be of great service to our company. We do not know exactly what amount of money is required, but we will put £10,000 at your disposal. You are not to involve us in further expenditure without our permission." Would not that be carrying on business on commercial lines ?

Senator Clemons - Certainly not.

Senator McGREGOR - I venture to say that it is done every day, and if Senator Pulsford, who has extensive commercial experience, liked, he could confirm my statement. That is all that the Government is now doing. Honorable senators are anxious to know where the money is to be spent. That has not been decided.

Senator Staniforth Smith - Should it not be decided before we vote the money ?

Senator McGREGOR - It may not be possible to decide yet. It may be advisable to make inquiries before the money is spent. Some of it may be spent, as indicated bv the Minister of Defence, in establishing wireless telegraphy between Thursday Island and Papua. It may be said, " Of what benefit will that be to Western Australia or Tasmania?" No matter where a wireless telegraphy station is established in Australia, so long as that station is in communication with existing telegraph lines it will be of benefit to the whole Commonwealth. If Papua were connected with Thursday Island it would not be necessary to have a station connected with Papua in every State. One would be sufficient. A couple of years ago much was said about a few hundreds of people who live in King Island. Sometimes they are months without any communication with the mainland. Suppose King Island could be connected by wireless telegraphy with Queenscliff. Would not that benefit the Commonwealth generally ? We sometimes hear much about the Solomon Islands, the New Hebrides, and other parts of the Pacific. Inquiries that might cost a little money might be necessary to ascertain how many stations were required to connect the principal islands in the Pacific with the Commonwealth. One station in the Commonwealth would serve the purposes of all Australia It seems to me that the amount asked for is reasonable, in view of the vast possibilities that underlie wireless telegraphy. From that point of view, I should not hesitate to go before my electors in South Australia and justify my vote in support of this item, and I have not the slightest doubt that they would be generous and far-seeing enough to say, " You have done right."

Suggest corrections