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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) (7:46 PM) . - I say quite candidly that, in my electorate, the Postmaster-General appears to administer his department on the American principle of " spoils to the victors." Because it is represented by a Labour man, nothing is done for it. Every portion is neglected, and no satisfaction can be obtained from either the department or the Postmaster-General himself.

Mr Gibson - That is a very unfair statement to make.

Mr LAZZARINI - If the honorable gentleman will traverse the electorate in my company I shall prove that it is true. If I make a request for some work in an industrial area on the south coast, no action is taken; yet a small progress association can apply to the department over my head and obtain permission to have the work carried out, simply because its members are political friends of the Postmaster-General. I make that statement quite definitely.

Mr ABBOTT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And very unfairly.

Mr LAZZARINI - The honorable member knows nothing about the matter. He may be able to have works carried out in his electorate, because he is a supporter of the Postmaster-General. When Mr. Webster was Postmaster-General, approval was given to the building of a new post office at Burrowa, and the work was put in hand. Mr. Webster left office and nothing further was done. Representations to the present PostmasterGeneral and his predecessor have been of no avail. The present building is a ramshackle affair, and unhealthy for those who have to work in it. It in no way fulfils the requirements of a modern post office. The postmaster's residence is falling into decay, and it is not possible to close and lock the doors. Temporary repairs only have been effected.

On the south coast from Otford to the outskirts of Wollongong, the residents have neither a letter nor a telegram delivery, although the area contains a population of up to 12,000 people. The only exception is the Bulli area, and even its outskirts are not served. A telegram was sent to that area informing a person of the death of his father; but it remained at the post office, because there was no delivery, and the man's father was buried before he received any news of his decease. The district postal and telegraphic services in that district have not been improved in the last twenty years. The Postmaster-General is well aware that I send to him daily, requests, not from individuals or insignificant progress associations, but from shire and municipal councils, for the putting in hand of works that would mean the expenditure of only a few pounds; but the department 1V111 do nothing. A request was made for a telephone box, and it was promised on condition that the shire council guaranteed the department £12. I pursued the matter and the amount was reduced, first, to *8 and then to £6. Eventually the department advised that it would be provided if the council would maintain the lighting of it. Actions such as that are bringing the Postal Department into disrepute. A request was made also for a pillar-box to serve a more populous area than Austinmer. I want it to be clearly understood that I am , pleased that one was provided at Austin- mere, even though it was at the instigation of a progress association or some individual, and did not go through me.

Mr Gibson - I cannot help it if the progress associations go over the honorable member's head.

Mr LAZZARINI - I do not care if they do. My complaint is that the department pays heed to their representations, but will not consider the more legitimate requests that I make. The Bulli shire council, which consists of representative men, made a request for a similar convenience, and was turned down. I could quote a number of instances of a similar nature. The following is a letter which I received from the Bulli shire council after the department had repeatedly refused to provide reasonable facilities that would have necessitated the expenditure of not more that £20 a year -

Referring to the letter from the PostmasterGeneral's Department of the 13th inst., forwarded through you regarding the provision of public telephone facilities at Russell Vale and Hopetoun-street, Bulli, within this shire, I have by direction, to request that you will bring this matter before the House of Representatives at the first opportunity in an endeavour to force the hands of the Postmaster-General's Department in this matter.

Members of my council feel very strongly on this subject, and are of opinion that the need for the provision of telephone facilities where requested fully justifies the granting of the request. I shall be pleased to hear of your success in the above connexion.

The members of this council are not likely to ask for anything unreasonable, because they frequently have requests of that nature made to them. This state of affairs has existed since I was elected to represent the district six years ago.

The department is deliberately taking advantage of the fact that' returned soldiers in its employment are receiving' pensions, and is compelling them to work under sweating conditions. Full particulars of the matter to which I shall now refer have been placed personally before the Postmaster-General. The gentleman who is responsible for carrying on the work of the department at Scarborough would not be able to maintain his wife and children if he did not receive a war pension. The revenue which passes through his hands annually amounts to £12,540. The following are particulars of the business transacted: -


That man receives the princely salaryof £15 a month, and he has to pay 8s. a week for the rent and lighting of his premises. Twice daily he has to make the forward and return trips to the railway - a distance of nearly a mile - for the purpose of receiving and despatching mail matter.

The last matter to which I wish to refer is the most important of all. A new railway line is being constructed from Port Kembla to Moss Vale.In that area there are four or five camps of men, the number employed totalling about 500. Their work is in mountainous country, and is dangerous in the extreme. There have been many casualties, one of which proved fatal in the Wollongong hospital a few hours after the victim was taken there. These men have been exerting pressure upon me to secure a telephone that will connect the camps with the ambulance at Wollongong, in order that men who are injured may quickly obtain relief. The PostmasterGeneral replied that the request could not be granted. The letter conveying that intimation stated -

There is already an office atUnanderra, which is within five miles of each of the four railway encampments. In two cases the distance is only1½ miles and2½ miles respectively.

Ifa man is seriously injured, the department expects that his comrades ought to walk a distance of five miles to obtain the use of a telephone so as to summon an ambulance to convey him to the hospital. It would not cost a great deal to comply with the request. I notice the

Postmaster-General smiling. He is following a fairly safe occupation. He would smile on the other side of his face if he had to brave the dangers that these men brave daily. He would be the first to agitate for a telephone service, so that he might obtain the only protection that the conditions will allow. This action of the department is in itself sufficient to condemn it, and every person who is responsible for it. It is an exhibition of callous disregard for human life and the injury that may be caused to men in the performance of railway constructional work. With thehuge surpluses which the Government is now handling, there is ample finance to carry out work of this character. I suppose that, when the Postmaster-General rises, he will direct attention to the new post offices that were built at Port Kembla and Bulli. I had to fight for three or four years before any action was taken, and those post offices would not havebeen built had it not been for the fact that the old premises were decaying, and the honorable gentleman was afraid that a beam might fall down and kill some one, and so make him answerable on a charge of manslaughter.

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