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The following extract from the evidence given by Mr Martin Kennedy, before the Westland Coalfields Committee of the House of Representatives, shows the nature of the “ monopoly ” of the Westland coal trade enjoyed by the Union Company, and that it is a necessity of the present state of shipping in New Zealand : Have you a copy of the agreement between the Union Company and the Grey Valley Company as to the rate for carrying coal ?—I have not a copy with me, but I know what arc the terms of it.

What are the terms?— The terms consist of an arrangement by which they provide us with all the tonnage that we require for New Zealand at scheduled rate?, conditional that we reserve all pur coal-carrying to New Zealand ports for them, "That arrangement is subject to be terminated by arc months’ notice on either side.

Is there any provision in the agreement prohibiting your company from selling coals to other companies or persons?— None nt all; but we reserve the carrying for them. If you wanted to send a cargo to one of your own agencies in any other part of New Zealand, would they have to provide the steamer ?—Yes.

Suppose the Centennial Company, or the Elderslie Company, sent a steamer down to Greymouth for coal for their own use?— They would get it if it was for their own consumption ; but if they were getting it to sell and deliver it in New Zealand we would not supply them. I will justify that action if you like. You do not want them to go into competition ?—That is not the reason ; it is this : You must either provide your own tonnage, or you must make an arrangement with some other firm that is able to give you the tonnage. No matter whether you own these steamers or anyone else, you must keep your work for them. As there is only a limited trade in New Zealand and yog <nve 5,000 tons of it to other steamers to carry—the output is not thereby increased—and the Union Company are bound to do that work according to the agreement, it is only right to keep the whole for them. Suppose I had steamers myself to carry all my freight, does anyone suppose that I would supply the Centennial and lay my own steamers up? I would not do it in that case : why should I do it with anyone else ? If there is 100,000 tons to carry, the case is not altered. The Union Company must find steamers to carry it. What would they ao if we were to give freights to other steamers ? This is a mutual arrangement—it is mutually advantageous to both. If you did not make that arrangement you would have the risk of getting no bottoms at all ?—Yes ;if we have sufficient tonnage for winter it is double our requirements in the summer time. Can you do any foreign business ?— I That is done chiefly by sailing vessels that make the round trip to England. This arrangement does not place us at any disadvantage whatever. They wish to get the freights; it suits us to give them the freights. We, of course, wish to get the freights as low as possible. I have been working this arrangement for the lagt twelve months, and there is no disadvantage whatever either to the owners or the public. I say that lam free to negotiate with any other firm unless the Union Company shall concede to me such terms as I would obtain, and, if they refuse, I would be free to recommend that arrangements be made with another firm. Is not the effect of it to keep up the rate of freight to a certain fixed amount?—lt helps that, no doubt—it has that tendency. I consider that, from a trade point, it is justifiable. What has any of us to do in business if we cannot make it pay ?

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Bibliographic details

THE UNION COMPANY AND THE COAL TRADE., Issue 8034, 10 October 1889

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THE UNION COMPANY AND THE COAL TRADE. Issue 8034, 10 October 1889

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