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Wednesday, 5 October 1910
Page: 0


Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I am very glad that Senator Chataway dealt with the new telephone regulations, and the conditions under which the telephone is used under the measured-rate system. I do not intend to go into the whole question to-night, but to direct the attention of the Government to certain matters. If they are going to apply a uniform rate as for rental and as for use of the telephone, they should take into consideration the different systems of telephones in existence. Some telephones are on the common battery switchboard ; some are on the old multiple switchboard, and some can be used without the slightest danger of induction that will lead to the discovery of conversation taking place between two persons who are conversing, and one or two others who are not on the same line. There are also telephones which will enable a person to deal directly with the person with whom he is conversing, and when the conversation is finished, to at once disconnect himself, and immediately get telephonic connexion with somebody else. These are circumstances which I think ought to be taken info consideration by the Government before they fully establish any proposition for the uniform charging of persons who use telephones. There is another matter which I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, and that is in connexion with the conditions which certain shipping companies propose to impose on travellers. I .desire to ask whether, in view of the fact that apparently it is not contemplated that the Navigation Bill shall go right through its course this session, the Government are prepared to take action with regard to certain shipping companies which propose to impose upon passengers conditions which are contrary to law. I need not go further than to state that they propose to establish amongst others, a condition which is an infraction of the Quarantine Act.


Senator Pearce - Does this come under the vote for the Postmaster-General's Department ?


Senator KEATING - I am speaking of steam-ship companies which receive a mail subsidy.


Senator Pearce - There is no vote on these Estimates for that purpose.


Senator KEATING - If that is the case, I shall not pursue the matter much further. Section 59 of the Quarantine Act provides that a company shall bear the cost of quarantine; but certain companies which enjoy a mail subsidy, and are supposed to carry passengers in ordinary circumstances, propose to impose upon them the obligation of discharging them from their responsibilities, not only in that regard, but in other directions. I do not wish to go into the matter very fully at present, but on a more appropriate occasion I shall do so if an opportunity is afforded to me. In the meantime, I ask the Government to carefully ascertain from all shipping companies which receive a subsidy for carrying mails if they are prepared to conform to Australian laws and Australian conditions, and not to ask passengers to sign anything which mil. deny to them any rights they may have under the common law or under the Statute law of the Commonwealth.







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