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.
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.