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Thursday, 26 August 1920

Mr GABB (Angas) .- I congratulate the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) upon having submitted his amendment. During the early stage of the debate upon it, the attitude of Ministers was to turn up their noses and to say in effect, " Do as you like." But as the discussion proceeded, their airiness disappeared, so that I am convinced that the time that has been devoted to this matter has not been wasted. In regard to allowance postmasters, I do hope that a larger sum than £76,000 will be provided. There are thousands of allowance offices in Australia, and the amount I have mentioned will not go very far when it is distributed amongst so' many officials. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) spoke of the Bulls of Bashan. But whilst there may have been a roar which reminded one of the Bulls of Bashan, there was also the shriek of the Australian parrot, and there was a bleat from the lambs over there. Like the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), I wish that the electors of Australia could have been here to see what was taking pla.ce in the chamber to-day. Since the din er.-hour, the two Government Whips and another special pleader have been in company with members of the Country party, pleading with them. I have great respect for some members of the Country party, as much respect for them as for any other members of the House, but I must believe my own eyes. I saw the Government Whips and the Treasurer in company with several members of the Country party. As the evening wore on, there was a group of five country members talking together in the corner. They were pulled up, and went out, and a meeting of some kind was held outside. In fact, every member of the Country party left the chamber. Then they returned to the chamber, and one of them seems now to be inclined to reverse his attitude. Originally he supported the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), and now he is voting with the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), a complete change of front. When the Treasurer talked of underground engineering and political trickery, he forgot the proverb that " those who live in glass houses must Dot throw stones." On a recent occasion we, on. this side, were told that if we wished the Country party to assist us in ousting the Government, we should be less rough in our methods. Last time we attacked the Government many members on this side hit the Country party harder than I thought they need have done, but that has not happened to-day. We did not attack the Country party to-day until we saw how they had decided to go. They cannot accuse us of having driven them into the arms of the Government.

Mr Jowett - Will thehonorable member allow me?

Mr GABB - At the present time I am not prepared to allow the honorable member anything. I know how he spoke on the amendment of the honorable member for Hume, and if he does not support the amendment by his vote, I shall know that my surmise in regard to the Caucus meeting of his party is correct. If, on the contrary, he stands by what he has said, I shall think him worthy to put interjections to me in the future, should he wish to do so.

Whatever may be said about shortage of materials in excuse for the delays in providing telephone communication, that shortage has had nothing to do with the reduction of the country mail services. To show how the country districts are treated, let me read a letter which I received from a constituent to-day. It was written from South. Australia on the 23rd of this month, and is as follows: -

I am writing to you for information on behalf of the Point Pass Vigilance Association on the matter of increased postal facilities, which I hope are not all reserved for the districts of the members on the other side.Before the advent of the train we had a daily mail by road. At first we had a daily train and mail. Since the train only goes alternate days we only get a mail on those days. The most we have been able to get is that the bags go as far as Eudunda, on the other days, and we may send in for them and the papers. We suppose thatthe postal authorities are keeping the telephone and telegraph revenue in mind.

The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Livingston), the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster), and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) seem to be thoroughly satisfied that they have been able to get from the Postal Department all that they have asked for.

Mr Atkinson - I did not say so.

Mr GABB - I have found the Deputy Postmaster-General of South Australia a gentleman to deal with, but I have not had 50 per cent. of my requests granted.

Mr Atkinson - No one has said that he has got all that he asked for.

Mr GABB - The honorable member for Barker said that there was only one thing more that he wanted. That is not my experience. To send from Point Pass to Eudunda for mails and. papers means to send a distance of about seven miles. If the Country party think that that is proper treatment for our hamlets and villages, I do not agree with them, and if they keep in power the Government that is responsible for this treatment of country residents, they will find that the people who sent them here are disappointed in them.

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