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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - It is very nearly time that Australia did something in the matter of ship-building. We must begin somewhere. I can assure Senator Gould that vessels of the class to which he refers can be built, not only by several firms established in Sydney, but also by firms in Brisbane. The Victorian Government are making arrangements which will enable such vessels to be built at Williamstown. They can be built at Adelaide, and almost in every one of the capital cities of the States. Shipbuilding is not a new thing in Australia, Ship-building of this kind was commenced in Australia twenty-seven or 'thirty years ago. I can recollect the time when, on the Brisbane River, the firm of Sutton and Company had four tug-boats and seven barges building at the same time, and another firm, Phelan and Company, had building seven hopper barges, which were used for carrying silt from the rivers. But owing to the lack of Protection ship-building died out to a large extent. We are proposing this duty to encourage its revival. Undoubtedly we have the requisite skill in Australia. -I know something about the small vessels trading on the New South Wales coast, to_ which Senator Gould has referred. Moreover, I know of a coal company that has entered into arrangements with Mort's Dock Company to build vessels of 400 and 500 tons if the work can be done at a reasonable cost. The majority of the Manly steam-boats have been built in Sydney by the Mort's Dock Company, which now has orders for two or three more of a larger kind. We ought to encourage firms to be patriotic enough to give work of this class to local ship-builders. I have not the least fear that if this duty is imposed, and ship-building is commenced in Australia, or, rather, recommenced, the farmers and producers about whom Senator Gould is so anxious will not suffer.

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