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Wednesday, 22 August 1906


Mr McWILLIAMS (Franklin) . - We are being asked to commit ourselves to an absolute waste of money. I do not expect that the slightest success will be achieved as the result of the operations of the proposed Government trawler, but I predict that within three years the steamer will be up for sale, and that we shall be glad to accept any offer for her. Deepsea fishing has been carried on in Australian waters for many years. Some honorable members may recollect the Rachel Thomson - a Hobart ketch of about 40 tons, which used to engage in deep-sea fishing off the coast of Tasmania, and bring her catch into the Melbourne market. That vessel met with misfortune, and has not been replaced. A few ketches fitted with auxilliary engines are now engaged in fishing off our coasts. They are chiefly used to obtain fish for manurial purposes.


Mr Tudor - What sort of fish?


Mr McWILLIAMS - Barracouta and shark, which are sold to the farmers and orchardists for manurial purposes. In our Australian waters there are not the vast shoals of fish which visit England and Scotland, and which enable those countries to make their preserved fishing industries such a great success. Consequently, I maintain that this bounty will prove an absolute failure.


Mr Johnson - How can the honorable member say that before we have made the experiment ?


Mr McWILLIAMS - The experiment has already been made. As everybody is aware, the best fishing ground in Australia is considered to be off the Scamander River. Some time ago a voting Englishman, who had had considerable experience of fishing in the old country, visited Tasmania, and endeavoured to float a company to preserve the fish obtainable in the locality indicated. The project, however, fell through, simply because, although the fishing ground off the Scamander River is an admirable one for tourists, there were not sufficient fish to enable the company to start operations upon the large scale that would be necessary to make it a financial success.


Mr Watson - There is a fish preserving industry on the New South Wales coast at the present time.


Mr Mcwilliams - What sort of fish are preserved?


Mr Watson - I cannot say.


Mr McWILLIAMS - We have tried the experiment in Tasmania, and without success.


Mr Ewing - Quite as many fish pass along the eastern seaboard of Australia as are to be found in any part of the world.


Mr McWILLIAMS - I do hope that, if the proposed £8,000 be expended, it will result in the establishment of the fish, preserving industry. But I believe that it is impossible to obtain a sufficient supply to permit of that being done.


Mr Watson - It is the difficulty of getting fish distributed which keeps them out of more general consumption.


Mr McWILLIAMS - If a plentiful supply were available - notwithstanding that the middleman frequently obtains quite as much in the way of profit as the fisherman gets for his labours - the price of fish would come down. I credit Ministers with sincerity in this matter, but I believe that the project is doomed to failure. Recognising that the money will be absolutely thrown away, I shall - if the item be pressed to a division - vote against it.







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