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Thursday, 13 May 1915

Senator LONG - Twenty-six sound . teeth.

Senator PEARCE - If the applicant cannot comply with that requirement lie is rejected.

Senator LONG - In view of very numerous press criticisms, and of private information in the possession of a number of honorable senators regarding the very unsatisfactory transmission and delivery of letters to the troops in Egypt, will the Minister of Defence consult with the Postmaster-General with the object of devising some scheme by which the troops may get their letters and newspapers sent to them from home?

Senator PEARCE - Yes; I will have pleasure in consulting the PostmasterGeneral. I may, perhaps, be permitted to say that we have had several conferences on this matter, but have not been able to discover any reason why there should be the delays which have occurred. The bags are made up here in exactly the same way as are the mail bags for England. All letters are addressed to the base at Egypt, and are put into separate bags, which are taken off the mail boat at Egypt, and forwarded to the camp, where there is a properly appointed staff to deal with them. A large number of postal officials enlisted, and, because of their special knowledge, they were put on to the mail work.

Senator Keating - Does the staff generally speaking . consist of officials or amateurs 1

Senator PEARCE - Generally speaking, the staff is composed of men who were trained in the Post Office here and enlisted. The mails are then distributed to the various units. But now that the main body of the Forces has been sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula, the base organization will continue to sort out the letters for the Gallipoli Peninsula and send them on; but people in Australia are still advised to post their letters to the base at Egypt. We have cabled to Egypt to know if there is anything wrong there, or if they can give us any explanation. The Postal Department here can give no reason, nor can the Defence Department suggest any reason why there should be any delay. However, I will go into the matter again with my colleague.

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