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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr COLLINS (Hume) .- For years, honorable members in this chamber have spoken on postal matters before a Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral who occupied a seat in the Senate, and whose representative listened with cold indifference to our pleas. Happily that is no longer the position in this chamber. For a long period I have been associated with other members in commenting on the anomaly and injustice of the surcharge on border telegrams. Many requests have been made for the removal of the charge, and I hope that the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron), who is noted for his fairmindedness, will soon see that it is abolished.

The disabilities suffered by people in country areas through lack of postal facilities have frequently been mentioned in this chamber. In many instances the services provided, even in progressive country centres, are inadequate. In towns where dilapidated offices are used the erection of up-to-date official offices would be justified. When requests are made for new post offices, in towns both large and small, the plea comes from the department that the business transacted does not warrant further expenditure; hut I claim that, if the revenue received at some offices is insufficient to warrant the provision of improved accommodation, portion of the revenue collected in larger centres should he allocated for the purpose. Under the direction of the present Postmaster-General, I look forward to an improvement of the postal services throughout the Commonwealth. Rural automatic telephone exchanges are becoming very popular in country districts, and I realize that my electorate has received its quota of these exchanges.

The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) commented on the living conditions of the people living along the transcontinental railway, and while I agree with him that the residences are primitive and, in some cases, inadequate, I approve of the LI ew housing scheme adopted by the Railways Commissioner. The houses which are being constructed of compressed straw and plaster that I inspected at Port Pirie, are excellent, and I personally heard the tenants express themselves . as delighted with them.

I appeal to the Postmaster-General to provide improved postal and telephone facilities for people living in the outback areas. Those living closer in have the advantage of such transport facilities as are provided by the railway and aerial services, but those in the more remote districts of New South Wales are hampered by bad communications, and the lack of telephone and postal facilities. In wet weather it is impossible for them to travel over the sodden roads to places where there are telephones; and, in their interests, improved facilities should be provided.

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