Friday, September 2, 2016

Contract for the northern mail service -1879

Problems with the extension of the contract for the northern mail service using coastal steamers in 1879

Mackay Mercury and South Kennedy Advertiser (Qld), Saturday 12 April 1879, page 2

The Northern Mail Service

Tenders for a contract for a weekly mail steam service between Brisbane and Cooktown via intermediate ports, were opened at the Post-office on April 1. These tenders were called for on January 1; the service being intended to replace that now being performed by the A.S.N Company, the contract for which will, pursuant to notice, expire on June 30. Three tenders were sent in all by the A.S.N. Company, but the Postmaster-General does not recommend either of them for acceptance. The twelfth clause of the notice calling for tenders was as follows: — 'all vessels engaged in the service to be exempted from the payment of all harbour dues at all ports of call, excepting once in every period of twelve months.' This condition had the effect of reducing harbour dues from £3000, the amount now paid in two half-yearly instalments, to one annual payment of £1,500, and the present Postmaster-General considered it advisable that tenders should be framed to include the two half-yearly instalments as at present. The first of the three tenders is drawn up subject to all the conditions stated in the notice of January 1, calling for tenders and the amount asked is £10,780. The Second tender is £12,275. It differs from the first in this respect, that the two half-yearly payments of harbor dues of £1500 each, as at present, are provided for. The third tender stipulates that in the event of labor strikes no penalty for retention of mails should be enforced; and that, should the trade with Cooktown not improve, the Company to be at liberty to run a smaller steamer between Townsville and Cooktown. The sum mentioned in this tender is £9000 or £10,500, with one yearly payment of harbor dues.
We understand that the Postmaster-General, while refusing to recommend any of these tenders, has signified to Captain Trouton, general manager for the A.S.N. Company, who is now in Brisbane, his willingness to withdraw the notice of the present contract, and to contract, and to continue the subsidy, of £8350, now being paid to the Company, terminable by six months' notice on either side. Captain Trouton yesterday communicated the Postmaster-General's offer to his directors, who, however, have refused to alter their terms. This morning we learn that Captain Trouton made a verbal offer on behalf of his Company to conclude a contract for the northern service for five years certain for £10,250. per annum; but nothing has yet been decided with regard to this offer.

It appears that the directors of the A.S.N. Company are not so much concerned with regard to the amount of subsidy to be allowed, as they are with regard to the certain duration of their contract. They object most decidedly to any claim making the contract terminable by six month's notice:— Telegraph.