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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Mr LACEY (Grey) (5:46 PM) .- Notwithstanding the extraordinary circumstances in which this debate is being conducted. I desire to take the opportunity to remind the Postmaster-General of the inadequate mail and general postal services iu operation in a. portion . of my electorate known as Eyre Peninsula. I _give ' credit to the honorable gentleman and his department for having materially improved those sen-ices during the last: few years. By making frequent representation to the Minister and his department I obtained many improvements,, particularly in the way of telephone and telegraphic facilities. When I waselected Eyre Peninsula was not linked up with the main system by telephoneAfter many representations and numerousdeputations to the Postmaster-General, I was able to secure the installation of that facility, for which the residents are extremely thankful. From time to time I have mentioned EyrePeninsula in this chamber, because I recognize it to be the most neglected' part of South Australia, and perhaps themost neglected part of Australia from many points of view. It has been verymuch misrepresented, yet it is the onlypart of South Australia where any development is possible. It possesseslarge tracts of virgin country, which are only now being developed. The total area of South Australia is 243,244,800- acres, while that of Eyre Peninsula is- 18,378,560, actually one-thirteenth thesize of the whole State of South Australia. A large portion of it is agricultural land, or land which will eventually become excellent agricultural country. The acreage under- cultivation in South Australia is 13,759,615 acres, of which 3,564,293 acres is in Eyre Peninsula. So far as I can gather, the population of the Peninsula is about 20,000. Recently Professor Howe, an advisor to the Victorian Government, said that Eyre Peninsula had an assured rainfall over 6,000,000 acres. Honorable members will realize the importance of the Peninsula when I tell them that the Development and Migration Commission has decided that £584,000 shall be granted to it for the purposes of water reticulation, which will benefit 6,000,000 acres. That makes it evident that I am not advocating the cause of a barren country.

The Leader of the Opposition stated that, more interest should be taken in the development of postal and mail facilities in our country districts. Generally speaking, our country districts are neglected. The revenue derived from the Postal Department has been of a very buoyant nature, and has been continually on the increase. The South Australian Advertiser of the 8th January, 1927, referred to the department as follows: - .


A Bouyant Revenue.

Postmaster-General Satisfied.

Melbourne, 7th January.

In a statement issued by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) to-day he expressed his satisfaction at the bouyancy of the post-office revenue. Since 1923 his department had made considerable sacrifices in revenue as the result of the concessions to the public. The alterations in the postage rates accounted for an annual decrease in revenue of more than £1,200,000; the introduction of the revised method of charging for trunk lines was responsible for a decrease of £130,000 per annum, and the reduction in the cable Vate had meant a sacrifice of £34,000 in the revenue from that source. The increased frequency of incoming and outgoing overseas mails from and to the United Kingdom had accounted for a further expenditure of £00,000 per annum. All these items totalled £1,424,000. It was expected that the total loss on the operation of the whole services for the year1926-1927 would be in the neighbourhood of £200,000. On the other hand the all-round increase in revenue during the half-year ended 31st December, 1926, compared with the corresponding half-year in 1925, was accounted for as follows: - Private boxes and bags, £4,486: money orders and postal notes. £15,006; telegraphs, £23,285; telephones, £261,989; postage, £120,597; miscellaneous, £30,731; radio receipts, £8,999; making a net increase of £464,793.

In any consideration of the finances of the Postmaster-General's Department, addedMr. Gibson, it should be remembered that in 1923 the post-office was unable to meet the demands tor the telephone services. Since then 24 new telephone exchange buildings have been erected in the capital cities at a cost of £317,000, and exchange equipment had been installed costing £1,255,000.

J remember that, when it was proposed to reduce the cost of postage for a½-oz. letter from 2d. to1½d., many honorable members stated that the innovation would confer a greater advantage on business people and city dwellers than on people resident in the country.I agree with that view, because country residents post only an occasional letter, whereas the business man in the city has a voluminous correspondence. Nowithstanding the small loss that may be incurred, country people have the right to expect adequate facilities, and, although I give the Minister credit for having improved postal facilities, they need to be extended still further in Eyre Peninsula. Only recently the Treasurer visited that Peninsula, and I regret that I have not a copy of what he is reported to have said. He told the residents that they were entitled to have better mail facilities, and that he could not understand why they had not received them previously. He told them that the potentialities of the Peninsula surprised him most of all, and he expressed surprise with much else that he saw. The town of Port Lincoln is a municipality, and is used very extensively as a pleasure resort. It has been stated that it is one of the best ports in the world. It certainly is a very fine port indeed, as also are Cowell, Tumby Bay, Kimba, Ellerton, Ceduna - which used to be called Murat Bay - and Streaky Bay. I have received communications from those places asking that something should be done in the way of improving their postal services. The following wire is from Cowell : -

Mails arrive Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays. Depart Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays. Sunday's mail arrives Adelaide just before Wednesday's. Present system useless to farmers. Please urge adoption Port Augusta proposal changing to seaplane service for whole Peninsula and west coast next year.

I have also received the following wire from Kimba: -

Mails now arrive Wednesdays, Fridays; depart Thursday morning and evening.

The great difficulty is the distribution of mails. Mails depart from Kimba only on Thursday mornings and evenings. It is not a small town, as may be gathered from the fact that an hotel there changed hands recently for £17,000. It is in one of the best wheat-growing districts of Eyre Peninsular. I have received the following wire from Ceduna : -

Adelaide mails arrive Ceduna Wednesdays and Saturdays; depart Thursdays and Tuesdays.

Ceduna therefore receives only two mails a week. The following telegram was received from Streaky Bay : -

Mailsdepart Wednesdays. Fridays, 5.30 mornings; arrive Tuesdays, Fridays, 8.30 night.

This telegram was received from Port Lincoln -

Mails from Adelaide Tuesday, Friday and Sunday ; from railways Wednesday and Friday.

My object in reading those wires is to give the Minister an indication of the unsatisfactory delivery of mails, and that applies generally throughout Eyre Peninsula. In some instances the newspaper proprietors subsidize the mail service so that newspapers may be circulated in the country districts. That certainly should not be necessary. The Commonwealth revenue is largely obtained from the tariff which is imposed for the protection of Australian industries, mostly in the cities, and therefore the people of the cities receive some quid pro quo for the burden of indirect taxation. The country people bear the burden equally with the city people and it is only right that they should receive in return some proportion of the Commonwealth revenue, and I urge the Minister to consider their case from that point of view. The facilities for mail distribution throughout Eyre Peninsula should be reviewed. If added facilities are given to one town, very often another is penalized thereby. The mails are carried by boat from Adelaide to the different ports. A mail service is so operating from Port Augusta to Whyalla, which is situated about 50 miles from Kimba. That town is served by railway, and if mails were transported there from Whyalla an additional service would be given. The route of the proposed aerial mail service to Western Australia passes over Cowell, and it would be quite possible for such a service to land mails on Eyre Peninsula. I suggest to the Government that it convene a conference of the postal authorities, the shipping authorities, those controlling the aerial mail service, and the representatives of the residents of Eyre Peninsula, with a view to organizing the distribution of mails; I do not wish it to be understood by the Minister that the Postal- .Department of South Australia has not given serious consideration to' this problem. Mr. Kitto and Mr. Mason of the Department have travelled extensively through Eyre Peninsula, and I know that the DeputyDirector of Posts and Telegraphs is also interested in this matter. I have received the following letter, dated 17th November, from Cowell -

I.   would like to point out that the proposal most favored by our residents is for two mails per week from Cowell to Port Augusta, retaining the present direct mail from Adelaide to Wallaroo, thence by steamer to Cowell on Thursday, as this latter mail only takes' the one day.

With regard to the suggested aerial carriage of mails, we note that the route to be followed by the Adelaide to Perth air mail goes directly over Cowell, and we can see no reason why all ordinary mails, other than parcels post and breakable articles, could not be landed at Cowell by parachute without causing any delay. It would, however, be infinitely preferable to have a complete seaplane service for Eyre's Peninsula and the West Coast exclusively. This service could leave Adelaide, (lying direct to Cowell, landing in the harbour, thence to Carrow (midway between Cowell and Port Lincoln), thence to Port Lincoln, across to Elliston, Streaky Bay, and Fowler's Bay. At each of these centres is good smooth water for landing purposes, thus involving no expense for the preparation of landing grounds, and from each centre (with the exception of Carrow) there already exists a radial system of internal mail distribution. This proposal was brought before Dr. Earle Page on his recent visit to Cowell, and he strongly advised us to place the matter before the Postmaster-General.

We have been given to understand that the Adelaide daily newspapers are prepared to subsidize an nen al mail to a very substantial extent in order to get the " Daily " distributed over this part of the State, and it certainly does not appear as if it would involve the department in a greatly increased expense, while giving the whole of this now isolated part of the State regular and speedy communication with Adelaide. I might remind you in this connexion that the vote for the encouragement of commercial aviation has been very largely increased this year, and should certainly be available for the purpose for improvement of mail services.

Trusting that you may be successful in securing the improvement in service for which we are asking,

Yours faithfully,

Stewart Williams,

Hon. Sec, I. H. Progress Committee.

That letter speaks for itself. I urge the Minister to consider the suggestions that I have made, and in particular to convene a conference of those concerned in the distribution of mails on Eyre Peninsula.

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