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Thursday, 25 July 1912

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - 1 think that honorable senators from Tasmania are to be congratulated upon the way in which they have pushed the claims of their State. I am prepared to help them as far as I can to improve the mail service between the mainland and Tasmania. When the existing contract was let, three years ago, the representation made to the Senate and to another place was that it was necessary to give a very fair subsidy, not for the purpose of the carriage of the mails, but for the purpose of conducting one of the chief industries of Tasmania, namely, her tourist traffic. The Loongana was built, to a very large extent, to induce people to travel from the mainland to Tasmania during the summer months, and, for the purpose, she is equal to any boat running in any part of the world.

Senator Long - What about the boats running across the Irish Channel ?

Senator GUTHRIE - They are not to be compared with the Loongana for speed and convenience.

Senator Long - They have a greater speed by 5 knots. "

Senator GUTHRIE - I was on the Loongana when she did the measured mile from Gellibrand, and she went at the rate of 21 knots.

Senator Long - The steamers I refer to do up to 26 knots.

Senator GUTHRIE - The summer trade with Tasmania is admittedly a profitable trade, and the Loongana no doubt pays during the summer months, but it must not be forgotten that she is an expensive boat, in view of her coal consumption, and the extra stokehold hands required to run her. When we asked for a 16-knot service between the Gellibrand and the Tamar, some persons might consider that it meant that the service should be 16 knots over the whole distance between Melbourne and Launceston. But no one would expect that the boats would go 16 knots up the Yarra, when we know that notices are posted at intervals along the banks, under harbor regulations, requiring vessels to go "dead slow." The question has been raised as to what the State Government might do in the matter, but I do not think that the Tasmanian Government are prepared to conduct a mail service between that State and the mainland. I do not think there is the least chance of them doing so. It is true that the Western Aus tralian Government have undertaken to conduct a particular service. The real reason why the shipping companies previously engaged in that service asked for an increased subsidy was that the boat carrying the mails ran to a port in a mining district. The bottom has since fallen out of the mines, and the smelting works have been closed up. The contractors then told the Government that if they had to carry the mails only, and could carry no cargo either way, they must be paid something more than the subsidy previously paid.

Senator Findley - They wanted nearly double the amount.

Senator GUTHRIE - They wanted a considerable sum in addition to what was previously paid. This was because the mines at Hopetoun had ceased working, the smelting works were closed down, and there was virtually no trade between Albany and Hopetoun.

Senator de Largie - There is increased trade with Esperance and other places.

Senator GUTHRIE - The Western Australian Government's boat will not do a very big trade. In my opinion, in any new contract made for the carriage of mails between the mainland and Tasmania, there should be some stipulation that a second boat equal to the Loongana should be used. It has been said that such a boat could be got out in four months' time. I do not know of any trade similar to that between Tasmania and the mainland. There is shallow draught at each end of the trip, and a fast boat with shallow draught is required. Usually shallow-draught boats are cargo boats, without any passenger accommodation at all. It must not be forgotten that the Loongana was specially built for this service, and if another boat is tobe used in the service, it will have to bespecially constructed. The existing contract makes provision for one boat at 16- knots and another at 14 knots ; but we know that accidents will happen on board the best, regulated boats, and it may be necessary at any time to withdraw the Loongana from the service.

Senator Clemons - She has to go intodock at intervals.

Senator GUTHRIE - That is necessary every six months. It is a strange thing that, ten months ago, Senator Gardiner was journeying to England on the Ormuz, and he posted a letter to me, addressed from Colombo to Fremantle, which I received here. In that letter he said that, during the passage of the Red Sea, the-

Ormuzbroke down a number df times. It is almost a necessity to have a duplicate of any boat that may be run to provide for a breakdown. A catastrophe may take place at any time. Tubes burst, machinery proves defective, boats sometimes run on rocks or shoals in a fog, and so forth. The best suggestion that I have heard made is that we should have another boat of the type of the Loongana running in this trade.

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