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Thursday, 27 September 1906

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - 1" rise as aR inquirer regarding this matter. Possibly, before the Bill leaves the Senate I shall be asked to cast a vote, and I am now very much in the dark as to which way my vote ought to be recorded.

Senator Clemons - What?

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator expresses some surprise, but if I use an argument regarding the measure with which he was in entire agreement a few days ago, when its principle was ap- plied to another proposal before the Senate, he will admit that I have some reason for my doubt. I take this to be a proposal, one of the objects of which is to transfer from a State to the Federation expenditure which that State' under the Constitution ought legitimately to bear. I am not saying that there is anything wrong in a State asking to be relieved from an- obligation ; but I say that, under the circumstances, the Ministry ought to be in a position to make out a special case in regard to this particular proposal. I remind honorable senators that the bookkeeping 'period continues in operation, and will continue, until Parliament makes some other provision. Under the bookkeeping sections, the whole of the revenue in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department in Tasmania is credited to that State, and I desire to knew why this portion of the service should be singled out and made a Federal charge.

Senator Dobson - There is the " streak of blue " between Tasmania and the mainland.

Senator MILLEN - My friend must think there is a streak of green somewhere, or he would not thus attempt to impose on our innocence. Of course it is open to the Government to devise another scheme in the place of the bookkeeping system, but the latter is now in force. I contend that, so far, a case has not been made out why we should remove the cable service between Tasmania and the mainland from the operation of the bookkeeping section. Before I can consent to this transfer, I am entitled to ask the Minister, or the representatives of Tasmania^ to offer some sounder reason than I have yet heard. I want to hear some sound business reason advanced for the change.

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