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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator LONG (Tasmania) .- It was most interesting to listen to Senator Blakely's outburst of patriotism, which I am inclined to think was inspired by the fact that it is proposed to establish these Woollen Mills in Victoria. I intend to support the amendment of Senator Givens at the present moment, not because I believe that Yass-Canberra is the most suitable site for the erection of a woollen factory, but because that amendment, if carried, will mark the first step in the direction of diverting attention from the present unsatisfactory site at Geelong to a site which has been specially designed by nature for a mill of this character. Before the Government decided to erect a woollen mill they ought to have made absolutely certain that the necessary land would be available to them. Mr. Smail, in his report, states that the Geelong Harbor Trust has offered a suitable area to the Commonwealth free of cost. But to-day we have the Premier of Victoria declaring that the Trust had no authority to make that offer. Consequent! v. before the' mills have been erected at' Geelong, the Commonwealth has been evicted by the Victorian Government.

Senator Pearce - No.

Senator LONG - Then we ought to have some statement from the Minister on the subject.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Did not Mr. Watt contradict that assertion in to-day's newspapers ?

Senator LONG - No. Mr. Watt said-

Mr. Fisheris reported to have stated in conversation with a State member on Tuesday, that he considered it part of the agreement that the land should be given free, and that, if that were broken, he would feel at liberty to look elsewhere for a site. A Geelong paper, commenting yesterday on the situation, staled that Mr. Watt had said that he would withdraw his opposition. The Premier stated yesterday that this w_as incorrect.

In other words, he does not intend to with draw his opposition.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - No. He said that the whole statement was incorrect.

Senator Pearce - His reference was to the statement of the Geelong newspaper.

Senator LONG - Another important factor in the erection of woollen mills has only been touched upon once bv Mr. Smail in h;s search for a suitable site - I refer to the question of motive power. Surely that is a most important factor in pro duction. In Launceston Mr. Smail was offered by the Mayor of the municipality

Senator Millen - Is Launceston in the State which the honorable senator represents ?

Senator LONG - That question is quite beside the mark. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will for once take a national view of. this matter.

Senator Millen - I take such a broad view that I have looked over Bass Strait.

Senator LONG - The Mayor of Launceston offered Mr. Smail the necessary motive power at three-eighths of a penny per unit. That I am credibly informed is cheaper than it is supplied in any part of the world. -It does not represent £5 per annum per horse-power. In the south of the island we can get terms quite equal to these from a company which' will be operating there in the very near future. Let us see what Mr. Smail said regarding the climatic conditions and water supply of Launceston and Hobart. Of Launceston he wrote -

In climatic conditions and natural local facilities this place is quite equal to the previous best place. The conditions are ideal for cloth manufacture, and I am confident that we could produce cloth here second to none in Australia. But when considered regarding labour conditions, railway and shipping facilities, as a distributing centre, it has to take second place to Geelong. The mayor offers electrical power at three-eighths of a penny per unit, and water tor a domestic supply free.

Of Hobart he wrote -

The climatic conditions obtaining here are, in my opinion, quite equal to Launceston, and in all other respects they are very similar. The actual sites shown here are not equal to Launceston, and it is naturally more isolated.

That is an extraordinary statement to come from an expert - the assertion that Hobart is isolated.

Senator Rae - From the rest of the Commonwealth.

Senator LONG - Why, vessels from the other end of the world and from the mainland of Australia call at Hobart. Yet Mr. Smail has the temerity to say that that port, which is one of the finest in the world, is isolated.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator accepted Mr. Smail as an expert when he quoted his opinion in regard to Launceston. Therefore, he ought not to discount his view of the claims of Hobart.

Senator LONG - There may be some justification for Mr. Smail's statement that a difficulty in transit would be experienced in the case of Launceston. Speaking of Hobart, he continues -

Although it is a good place to manufacture cloth, I do not consider it central enough for a Government factory.

As to transit we know that, at very short intervals, ships visit that port which are capable of carrying away in their holds all the cloth that Tasmania can produce in a year. Yet Mr Smail declares as a reason for excluding Hobart that it is isolated. I do not think it is quite fair for Senator Blakey to level a charge of parochialism against me. I am first and always a good Australian.

Senator Rae - But it is necessary to prove it, and not merely to say it.

Senator LONG - In what way can I saisfy the honorable senator with proof? I say that there area number of sites in Tasmania equal in every respect to that of Geelong, and that in these circumstances the State which I represent is entitled to consideration at the hands of the Government. I have no desire to labour this question. I hope that Senator Givens' amendment will be carried. It will then be open to us to take the necessary action to divert the erection of this mill from Geelong to the State of Tasmania.

Senator Fraser - If the request be carried the selection will lie between Geelong and Launceston.

Senator LONG - No. In that case the question will be entirely reopened. If Senator Givens' amendment be carried it will be an intimation to the Government that these woollen mills are not to be established at Geelong.

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