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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr NOCK (Riverina) .- Whilst residents of country districts appreciate the extension of postal services provided by the Postal Department, and the. institution of certain reforms, involving the removal of some anomalies, there still exist three long outstanding anomalies to which I desire to refer. The first is in connexion with interstate telegraph rates, which I mentioned in my speech on the budget I appreciate the assurance given by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Archie Cameron) that the removal of the surcharge is being looked into. The second matter relates to telephone charges in country districts compared with those in city areas. The user of public telephones in city and suburban areas pays a rate of 2d. a call for which he is entitled to speak over distances ranging from 1 to 15 miles and, in some instances, 20 miles, whereas a person making a call at a country exchange is charged 4d. for 10 miles, and 5d. for 15 miles. The country people are not asking for any preference in this respect, but I should like the new Postmaster-General to look into the matter in order to see if it is not possible to put them on the same footing as users of public telephones in the city. The third matter to which I wish to refer deals with the construction of country telephone lines to connect private subscribers. At present a regulation prevents the department from expending more than £50 for the connexion of any subscriber. Any cost in excess of that amount has to be provided either by work, or payment, on the part of the person, or persons, requiring the service. This is all very well in cases where only one individual is affected, but, whereas the department will receive £3 as annual rental from a single individual, it will receive £6 in respect of a party line on which, say, half a dozen subscribers are connected. However, the department still limits itself to an expenditure of £50 for the construction of that party line. If it is prepared to expend £50 in respect of a single subscriber who pays £3, it should be prepared to contribute £100 towards the original construction cost in the case of a party line on which additional subscribers would bring in £6 instead of £3. 1 hope that the PostmasterGeneral will investigate these matters, and do a fair thing by country subscribers.

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