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Thursday, 26 August 1920

Mr PROWSE (Swan) .-The House has done good work this after- noon, inasmuch as not only the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise), but the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has made certain promises which practically conform to the desires of honorable members and to the needs of the country. For these reasons, and these reasons only, I feel that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) should be supported and the Government given an opportunity to carry out the promises that they have now made. Had those promises not been made, I, for one, would have been pre pared to take any steps, recognising the paramount importance of these matters to the people of the Commonwealth. I hope that the Government will speedily set to work to offer greater facilities to those people who are really raising wealth for this great Commonwealth, and that it will be duly recognised that in the giving of these conveniences the people in the country are not the only ones who are benefited. The telephonic communication given to them is not for them only, because it is a great advantage to the people in the townships and the cities with whom they can communicate. It facilitates business in every way.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - One thing I think ought to cease at once. I think the Department ought to stop cutting away the privileges that we have got.

Mr PROWSE - The PostmasterGeneral has read to the House the terms of the proposed additional liberalization of postal and telephonic construction, but I must say that they are not as good as they 'appear in the reading. With the extreme cost of wire and other necessaries required to construct these lines, 25 per cent, is a very heavy toll upon ten or twelve country subscribers who should have telephonic communication. Let honorable members compare ten or twelve rural connexions with the connecting of ten or twelve houses in a city. Each of those ten or twelve city houses needs only about a chain of wire, and it, therefore, becomes very much simpler to connect a house in a centralized portion of the community, although the people in the towns render no greater service to the community than do those in the country. The rural community render greater services to the people in ' the centres, and, therefore, there should be a general contribution to pay for connecting the rural portions of the Commonwealth with the centralized portions. The Government have made the promises referred to in the amendment of the honorable member for Dampier, and as I wish to give them an opportunity of carrying them out, I shall vote for that amendment.

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