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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Mr SEABROOK (Franklin) (6:10 PM) . - It is very refreshing to hear the Prime Minister say that the Postal Department has made ar considerable profit, because that gives some encouragement to honorable members to ask the Postmaster-General for greater postal facilities in electorates. I suggest to him that he bring down supplementary Estimates to provide for essential postal facilities in certain country districts. Nearly all honorable members have received letters from their electorates asking for repairs to be made to post offices and for the building of newpost offices, and in view of the profit of the Postal Department, many of these long outstanding wants should be satisfied. The allowance post office at Sorrell is a disgrace to the district and the Postal Department. The revenue derived from it warrants the building of a new office. A site was bought for a new post office some years ago, but nothing has since been done. The PostmasterGeneral should be pleased to know that the country postmasters are taking a keen interest in their work. I am now referring to the Huon post offices. I have received the following letter from one of the postmasters saying that they are having a competition to see who can reach the 100 first with telephone subscribers.

Your advices through the press have been noticed. I would be glad if you would use your influence with the Works Minister to have the work treated as urgent for the following reasons: -

1.   Department is cabling the lines Huonville to Grove.

2.   Department is cabling the line Huonville to Ranelagh.

3.   Department is cabling the lines Huonville to Bridge.

The two latter have been completed, the former is on the way, and is expected to be completed the first week in December.

We are having keen competition in the Huon offices as to which office will reach the century murk first with the number of subscribers. We are at95; Geeveston, 96; Cygnet, 93; Franklin, 88. Huonville have about seven waiting for installation, but are held up owing to the contemplated addition to the office, and completion of lines cannot be given effect to until a main frame is installed, and the frame cannot be put in until the building is extended the 10 feet.

If you can get the Minister to give directions for his department to send the. matter on as urgent to the State Works here, we can expect them to have the work proceeded with, say, early next month. I don't think that I am exceeding my duty in bringing this matter before you, and leave it at your discretion.

That letter refers to a very important district. Five main roads meet at Huonville, and it is essential in the interests of the development of the area that the people should be given proper telephonic facilities. As things are, many of them are 'unable, without a great deal of inconvenience, to ascertain when steamers, will be in port and when it would be best for them to take their produce to the seaboard for shipment. I know that, other honorable members could bring quite a number of district complaints under the notice of the Postmaster-General; but I feel that I am entitled to press the claims of this district.

I must protest against the unfairness of providing only £300 on the loan estimates for additional services in Tasmania. I submit that that State, which, as I have often said, is one of the finest little spots on earth, is entitled to have a proper proportion of loan money expended within its borders. A large number of country post offices are needed there, and other facilities provided by the department should be made available to our people.

I notice that the salary allowed for the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Tasmania is only £756 per annum, while a salary of £872 per annum is provided for the deputy director in Western Australia. The salary of these officers in the other States is still higher. Seeing that the work is similar in each State, I contend that they should all receive a similar salary. Where there is a greater volume of work to do more men are provided to do it. It is unjust to discriminate between the States in the payment of these salaries.

Mr Duncan Hughes - Does the honorable member seriously suggest that the Deputy Director in Hobart should receive the same salary as the Deputy Director in Sydney?

Mr SEABROOK - Certainly I do; for he has to carry the same responsibility.

In view of all we have heard during this debate about the need for economy, the Government is not justified in incurring an expenditure of £1,100 per week for the upkeep of the public gardens in Canberra. As we all well recognize, the making of the gardens in this city has only commenced, and it appears to me that before very long it will be costing as much as £3,000 per week to maintain them. The taxpayers should not be called upon to meet this heavy and unnecessary expenditure at present, particularly as money is needed for more urgentpurposes in other parts of the Commonwealth.

I consider that I am amply justified in urging the Postmaster-General to provide an amount of £300,000 on the supplementary Estimates for necessary postal services for Australia.

Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 7.S0 p.m., (Friday).

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