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Friday, 26 September 1913

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) . - Even at the eleventh hour I desire to appeal to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to afford the Senate and the other House an opportunity of discussing the proposed agreement which, I understand, is to be entered into between the Commonwealth and the Union Steam-ship Company and Huddart, Parker and Company in reference to the carriage of Tasmanian mails. It is stated that the agreement is to operate for five years. I think it would be only fair, not only to Tasmania, which is vitally interested, but also to the Commonwealth generally, that we should have an opportunity of insuring that reasonable freights and passenger fares are provided for. We ought not to place ourselves in such a position that within a few years it will be shown that the freights and fares are absolutely out of all proportion to the cost of maintaining the service. The Government should not depart from the usual practice of affording Parliament an opportunity of discussing contracts of this kind. The matter is one that is of interest to the whole Commonwealth, and I feel strongly that we should have an opportunity of considering the agreement before it is ratified.

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