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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - I direct the attention of the Government to what appears an anomaly regarding telephone services for members of Parliament. . If a member has his home in the city, and is near to the Commonwealth rooms, he is able without charge to communicate with any part of the State in which he resides, and I think with any part of the Commonwealth on official matters. It h legitimate for a member to enter the federal members' rooms in Sydney and communicate by telephone with the Commonwealth, departments in Canberra to obtain any information he may desire, but the country member is at a disadvantage in that he has no such facilities. He may be situated in his home town 300 miles from the capital city and be unable to make any official call except at his own expense. He cannot communicate with the Commonwealth departments unless he actually pays for the call. Why give this privilege of making official calls free of charge to members who live in the cities, and at the same time deny the privilege to members who are compelled to use their own telephones in country towns? The mr-..n in the country areas should have the same rights to communicate with Canberra as are given to those who live in the cities. As for the possible objection that there could be no means of differentiating between private calls and official calls, those members who cannot bc trusted to make a truthful declaration of official calls are not fitted to be in the Parliament. Honorable members have telephoned from Sydney to my home in Wagga to discuss parliamentary business; yet, when I wish to get into touch with the departments or other honorable members on official business, I have to pay the ordinary telephone rates.

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