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Wednesday, 29 June 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - Some time ago, a regulation was issued by the Postmaster-General's Department to the effect that no one would be permitted to charge more than 2d. for the use of a telephone. What is the purpose behind this regulation ? I can quite understand that where people have had a telephone installed for public convenience it would be wise to intimate that the charge for its use should be not more than 2d. per call. But if one has a telephone connected with a private residence, one is not bound to make it available to persons outside tho household.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator suggest that private subscribers should be allowed to be profiteers if they desire?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. I may have a private telephone, and a neighbour or a stranger may call at my residence late at night, after I have gone to bed, and request the use of the telephone. I may object, whereupon he may urge that his need is so great that he is willing to pay ino half-a-crown. Why should I not be permitted to charge more than 2d. in the circumstances? In a boarding establishment where a telephone has been installed, the proprietress may deem it necessary to make a charge, say, of 3d. She may know that numbers of calls are made for which she receives no payment, and she may come to the conclusion that, in order to cover such losses, a charge of more than 2d. is necessary. Every Postmaster-General desires to institute some great reform, and up to the present moment this is the greatest I have seen during the present administration.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I trust the honorablesenator does not expect me to give the reasons which influenced the Department in coining to that decision.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Certainly not.

When in the Blue Mountains some time ago, I visited the post-office at Wentworth Falls, and found to my surprise' that the office and the telephone cabinet outside is lighted by kerosene lamps, although the electric light cables which supply the electricity to the town are outside. The kerosene lamp in the telephone box is not always burning, and consequently considerable inconvenience is experienced by those who desire to make calls. I drew the attention of the Department to this matter, and have received a letter from the Deputy PostmasterGeneral to the effect that inquiries were being made, but owing to the lack of funds the request could not be granted. It is particularly difficult for those who have to do business at a country post-office on a winter's evening; when the only light available is that provided by kerosene lamps. As the installation of electric light in the post-office and telephone cabinet would be of great convenience to the people at Wentworth Falls, I trust the Minister will bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.

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