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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr GIBSON (Corangamite) (PostmasterGeneral) (11:51 AM) . - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill amends the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1916. Briefly, there are two amendments which vitally affect the Postal Department. The first amendment deals with the opening of undelivered letters. Under the present Act undelivered letters have to be returned to the capital cities of the States, and honorable members will recognise the delay occasioned in transmitting a letter to Darwin, back from there to Adelaide, and again returning it to Darwin. A great deal of the time is taken up in sending the mails backwards and forwards. Permission is being sought to open these letters at other centres than the. capitals. They will be opened at places like Darwin and Townsville, and returned to the sender. It may be considered a small matter, but there are millions of letters sent through the post-office insufficiently addressed, and we are seeking permission to have them opened at other convenient centres rather than at the capital cities. The second amendment relates to telephonic communication in country districts, ' and the shortening of the telegraph poles. For some years I have endeavoured to effect this innovation, and now that it has been decided upon a considerable saving will be made. I have in my mind a long-delayed section of telephonic communication in one of the northern parts of the Commonwealth, and the saving on that line, if the Bill is passed, will be £20,000. On each pole erected the Department will save £1. The short poles are for use in the sparsely populated areas, where the settlers have asked for telephone lines.

Mr West - What is the length of the pole?

Mr GIBSON - Eight feet from the ground, instead of twelve as previously. The saving of £1 per pole takes into consideration the height, the cost of erection, and the sinking of it 1 foot less depth into the ground. That briefly explains the Bill.

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