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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr SPEAKER (Hon W M Nairn) - The honorable member's remark was only a matter of opinion.

Mr MULCAHY - I still contend that there was no justification for delaying the passage of this measure. The amendment submitted by the honorable member for Corangamite will not help in any way to increase the Government's resources for the prosecution of the war. I am pleased that the Government saw fit to bring down a measure of this sort. It proposes to increase revenue without increasing the costs usually associated with such a process. I wish to bring to the attention of the Postmaster-General some suggestions that might improve the service rendered by the Postal Department and, at the same time, increase its income. I should like to see telephones installed in every home in Australia, although I realize that, at the present time, this is not possible owing to the scarcity of telephone cables. In some other countries telephones are installed free of rent, and the only charges levied are for calls made by the subscriber. If this system were introduced in Australia, a considerable amount of additional revenue would be received by the department, and a valuable service would be extended to the public. Many utilities operating in the United States of America supply without charge the electrical equipment necessary for the use of their current, and also maintain globes and units in repair. Only the current actually consumed is charged for. I consider that it would be a good thing for the Government to provide, as soon as practicable, for the free installation of telephones in all homes where the service is desired. .Ample supplies of copper cable and other equipment for this purpose, which is in short supply at the moment because of war conditions, were available during the long period for which the previous Government was in office.

I direct the attention of the Government to the necessity to increase the allowances provided for non-official postmasters. In my opinion, an improvement of the conditions relating to these offices would undoubtedly lead to an increase of revenue from those sources. I also direct the attention of the Government to the desirability of appointing permanent officials to post offices in such localities .as Islington, Cardiff, The Junction, Morisset, Swansea, Sans Souci, Stanmore, Bellevue Hill, Spit Junction, Dee Why, Terrigal and Wickham.

Mr Abbott - Would that involve the " sacking " of the present non-official officers ?

Mr MULCAHY - I believe that the appointment of permanent officials to such places would lead to an increase of revenue, and I therefore advocate such action.

I have made many applications for the establishment of public telephones in places in my electorate, but until the Labour Government came into office very little result was achieved. I have been glad to observe indications of a movement to improve the telephone service in these localities since the change of government. I am. firmly of the opinion that the free installation of telephones in private homes would lead to a substantial increase of revenue. I trust that the bill will have a speedy passage.

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