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OCEAN MAIL SERVICES.

On tho motion to go into Committee of 'Supply last ni^ht, Mr Hamlin suggested that a discussion should be taken on tho ocean mail resolutions as a whole, and then a vote on each resolution separately. The Pkumiei: thought the suggestion a very good one. He said that the House would no doubt be surprised at his proposing these resolutions, as they seemed to some extent a reversal of those carded last year. He hoped, however, to be able to show that the San Francisco service was the cheapest •ihat could be adopted by the colony. The House directed the Government last session not to renew the San Francisco service, but to invito tenders for a direct service $ but they received no tenders fit all for the latter. The companies did send in a tender to the effect that they should not only be. paid by weight, but they must also receive a bonus. The Government also found that the Canadian Government wore not in a position to arrange a service across the Pacific, although they were desirous of •doing so. They were also approached on behalf of a proposal that a Bervice should be arranged by which the American Government would pay half the cost, leaving the colonies to pay about L 40.000, but negotiations h*d apparently not gone sufficiently .far, and no offer had been received as yet. T'te Government were therefore thrown back t'i consider the best temporary arrangement that could be made in order to await the development of another and mote satisfactory line. There were thrco lines now open to the Government the direct, the San Francisco, a'nd the Federal | services. A fourth proposal was to abolish all subsidies, and simply pay so much per j letter. The cost of tho la3t-mentioncd | would be about L 3,700, and it included both books and newspapers. That wis very I tampting to a Treasurer who wanted to save j money, and he had often thought it over. | He had, however, dismissed it as practically impossible, and it would raise such an out- j cry that no Government would be able to | resist it. Then they had to consider ] whether they should jnin the Federal service via Australia, which would cost j them L 13.000 a year for a weekly service, and they conid not obtain a fort- J nightly service for less than L 20.000. He j did not think tho House would accept that! service as compared with the cost of the ser- ' vice which the Government now proposed. As to the direct service and the San Francisco service, that would co3t them L28,7;>0, but L 5.500 of that was for a bonus for the direct service. But if the Committee determined that no bonus should be paid, the "Government proposals would be reduced by L 5.500. As to Mr Ward's amendment, he felt that it would be impossible to perform the service for the amount stated by that hon. gentleman. It would be a great mistake in every way if the House rejected tho Government proposals for the San Francisco service. The country would not allow its correspondence with America to go by England, and that was what would happen if the San Francisco service were abandoned. The reason the Government asked the House to agree to this service was because it was practically the cheapest they could get The whole proposal was only for twelve months, and New South Wales had agreed to pay the cost of the steamers, and tne farmers of the South could not be in any way affected by the proposals of the Government. There was no doubt that New South Wales had for some years the best of the bargain, but he would point out that Sydney was our best market, and it did seem a little shabby that for the sake of saving a small sum we should say now that we would have nothing to do with her. It was well worth paying a little extra for in order to cultivate friendly relations with a colony which was also our most favorable market. The mail services at present cost the colony Loo,ooo a year, of which onr loss was LC,500, whereas the new proposal of the Government was L 28.750, which would mean instead of a loss a gain to tho revenue of L 12,000. The proposals of the Government were reasonable, and no other route was possible for the same amount of money. If the House were prepared to say that no bonus was to be given, then ho thought it would be very unwise, but looking at the desirability of keeping up our connection with America till we saw what Canada was going to do, he thought it would be a most retrograde step to out off this connection, and he hoped the House would accept the proposal of the Government pending fresh communication with Canada. Mr Ward reminded the House of the resolution passed last year, that the subsidy to the San Francisco service should bo discontinued, and said that the resolution had a distinct application to the cessation of subsidies after November next; yet they were now asked to renes- that service. He complained that the Government, had not made proper efforts to obtain a fortnightly direct service, as was the wish of the House last 1 year, and referred at considerable length to the figures adduced by the Premier in support of tho 'Frisco service, which he contrasted unfavorably with the direct service. As to the Premier's proposal, he said that the House was asked to pay out of all reasonable proportion to what the other colonies had to piy when Now Zealand was the first contributor for the 'Frisco service, tie quoted figures to prove that the amount paid per lh> by New Zealand for her letters .vas greatly in excess of that paid from England ti America, and out of all proportion to what the colony could afford at present, The number of vessels arriving and sailing with British and American mails was greater than the number with Australian mails. One of the prime objects of the 'Frisco service w»s to increase the trade with America and to get a reduction of the American duty on word and flax. That was in 1870. They were now in 18S9, and those objects were as far off as ever. On fie other hand, the steamers had brought out fish and grain to compete with the colony in Australia, and bad actually been subsidised to do so. The \. ople in New Zealand had simply beon paying a rival to compete with it in Australia. Ho had been asked why he was so prejudiced against the 'Frisco line, but he denied that he was prejudiced any further than a de3iro to see a mail service established which was best in the interests of the colony. He asked those members who voted for the continuance of the San Francisco service last year to seriously consider the whole thing, and he hoped that those who last year voted for its abolition would be firm in that purpose, and for the second time mark by their votes the undesirability of continuing a service which was so much against the interests of the colony. Sir John Hall said the speech delivered by Mr Ward was a very able one, but fourfifths of it was entirely beside the question, as it went entirely on the assumption that the San Francisco service was to be kept up by New Zealand. Ho had voted against the proposal last year because it was then a question whether the San Francisco service would continue or not, but as the steamers were to continuo for another twelve months they had to consider whether they would iivail themselves of that opportunity of carrying their mails. That was quite a different proposal from that of Jast year, and lie therefore decided to vote for it. There was no question at all before them of the continuance of the San Francisco service, and he believed that the House would be

" consulting the best interests of the colony by adopting the proposals of the Government.

Mr Saundkrs moved as an amendment that no subsidy should be paid at all, hut that the Pe».?.naster-Gcneral may place mails o": £uy ocean-going steamer, and pay for the same any sum not exceeding 2s |;er lb for letters, Gd per lb for books, and 3d per lb for newspapers. Mr Buchanan would support the amendment of the member for Awarua.

Mr Withy said the past result of the San Francisco service showed that it had been tho quickest and cheapest service they had had, and under the Premier's proposals it would still bo the cheapest and less costly . of any other route they could adopt. '• Mr FisiiEn opposed tho Premier's reaolu- ! tions. i The I'nmiiEii intimated that if the j Government resolutions were lost he should > veto for Mr Saunders's amendment, as he

'. considered Mr Ward's amendment was J pruotically an impossibility. i Tho Premiers first resolution was then { nut as follows :—" That in view of the exIpiration of the ocean mail service contracts in November and December next, it is desirable to make further provision for the | conveyance of mails fortnightly between the i colony and Great Britain at a total cost not exceeding L2S,7so."—Agreed to by 31 to 2(5.

Mr Saunders's amendment—" That it is not desirable to enter into any further contracts for the conveyance of ocean mails " was losV. Mr VVaiid then moved to strike out " L 25.750," and insert L 20.000. j The amendment was lost by 33 to 24, and ! L28,7f)0 retained. j The Premier's renok-.tion No. 2 was then I put—" That in order to give further time j for tho development of the proposed Van- ! couver-Pacific service the Government be I authorised to arrange for a renewal of present services by San Francisco and by direct steamer for a period of twelve months."—Agreed to by 33 to 21. Mr Ward's amendment "That it is not desirable that further subsidies b? granted to the San Francisco service "—was lost.

The Premier's third resolution, giving effect to the two former ones, was then carried on the voices.

The resolutions were then reported to the House, and agreed to by 33 to 19.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890913.2.35

Bibliographic details

OCEAN MAIL SERVICES., Evening Star, Issue 8011, 13 September 1889

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OCEAN MAIL SERVICES. Evening Star, Issue 8011, 13 September 1889

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