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Thursday, 15 July 1920

Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) .- In addressing myself to the House on the motion now before it, there are various matters to which I wish to refer. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), in his reply to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), said that he saw no grounds for this censure motion. He claimed that the whole matter was futile, or something of the sort. I think that as the debate .has proceeded light has been thrown on many matters, and we are all now fully convinced that there are serious grounds, and good reasons, why this censure motion should be launched, and the Government should be told that they no longer have the confidence of the House to transact its business.

Before dealing with the more serious features of the situation, I wish to make a reference to the conduct of one of the great Departments of the Commonwealth, namely, the Post and Telegraph Department. Honorable members may recollect that, in the course of a debate on a similar motion tabled earlier in the session, the Post and Telegraph Department came in for a' fair amount of criticism. We then received the assurance of the PostmasterGeneral that many of the grievances complained of, and many of the patent injustices for which the Department was responsible, would be rectified. I was at the time less familiar with the proceedings of this House, and the management of a Government Department, than I am today, and I accepted the assurances of the honorable gentleman. I have little city experience of the work of this Department beyond some knowledge of the irritation caused by delays in making telephone connexions ; but, on the strength of the assurances given, I assumed that many of the inconveniences and difficulties suffered by country people because of the lack of postal and telephonic facilities, would be remedied. It is on behalf of isolated centres in the country that I wish to say a word to-day. Many instances could be quoted of applications made for telephone facilities in country districts in connexion with which the assurance has been given that the requests made would be complied with as soon as possible. I must have addressed some fifty requests to the head of the Post and Telegraph Department in New South Wales from people asking for telephonic communication, and the reply has always been that, as there would be so much loss on the operation of the lines asked for, they could not be granted. The people of one small town in my electorate, Bundanoon, have been incensed by the way in which their requests for telephonic facilities have been ignored . The neglect of the authorities is bringing one of the great Departments of the Commonwealth into disrepute. From what I can gather, very little effort is made to allay this public discontent. The postal facilities of the place have been curtailed, and the action of the Department in this connexion has been protested against because, although the town is small, it is growing, and the restriction of postal and telephonic facilities tends to retard its progress. I have been trying for the last two months to induce the Department to do something, but I have not succeeded. The following letter will inform honorable members of the character of the complaints that reach me -

I have to state, that the new arrangements seriously curtail our postal conveniences. Each day the post office is closed for one hour, and all Wednesday afternoon, the mails on that day being made up at 1 o'clock - a most inconvenient hour. Further, a telephone service was installed about two years ago. Thirteen subscribers are installed, four or five others are waiting to be connected, and several others have applied for the 'phone. Now all these accepted the service as we hare it at the present time, that is, six days a week. Now the Department are cutting this down to five days, and this we consider a serious breach of faith. For, had the Department made known their intention earlier, several of those who have made application for the phone would not have done so. Bundanoon is progressing, and we consider this serious curtailment of our postal conveniences against the interests of our town.

I leave the matter at that for the moment with my protest on behalf of the people of this town, and also on behalf of ten or fifteen similar applications I have had from country centres in my electorate, Where the people are isolated, and are doing- their best to promote rural development. The Post and Telegraph Department treats these people in the most callous manner, and does nothing for them at all.

I have, further, been inundated with complaints from mail contractors throughout my electorate, because of the way in which they are treated. They claim that when they entered into their contracts things were fairly prosperous, and there was no indication of the unsatisfactory seasons that have since followed. They have been applying to the Post and Telegraph Department for some recognition of the serious handicaps under which they have been carrying on their contracts, but they can obtain no satisfaction. They all get the same reply, " Your letter to hand. The matter is being considered," and there it ends. These men, who are carrying the mails throughout my electorate, are doing a national work. In enabling a Commonwealth utility to perform its legitimate function they are making conditions a little better for those who settle in remote districts and promote rural development. 1 am disappointed, not to say disgusted, that the promises made in connexion with these matters have so far been unfulfilled.

The Prime Minister stated that, although everything said by the Leader of

To a morning paper we are indebted for a touching picture of fraternal affection between politicians. " On Friday, in the House of Representatives, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Higgs were seated side by side on one of the benches, Mr. Hughes having his arm round Mr. Higgs' neck and whispering into his ear."

We read on, softened by this little idyll, and find at the bottom of the column - "McGrath (Labour) .. 13,326

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