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Friday, 15 December 1905

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. I am -afraid that in many quarters, where the lines are fairly occupied, it will lead to such a congestion of traffic as will practically paralyze the Postal Department. However, if the Postmaster-General can see no difficult/ in that respect we may very well allow him to assume the responsibility.

Mr. MAHON(Coolgardie).- I do not think that this amendment ought to be carried. There are very few country towns which do not possess a post-office, and where there is a post-office there is usually a telephone, so that the information which the honorable member for Bland desires to be transmitted to the people could easily be telephoned from town to town.

Mr Watson - Only at telegraphic rates.

Mr MAHON - Even admitting that fact, the amendment would prove of very little value, because in most instances the information would relate to a particular electorate or a particular candidate. It would not exceed twenty-five words.

Mr Watson - It would be much more than that.

Mr MAHON - I do not think so.

Mr Watson - The country electors want to know the returns for the whole of the State.

Mr MAHON - Even at the ordinary telegraph rates sixteen words can be transmitted f rom any portion of a State to any other portion for ninepence. I think that the honorable member for Bland will find that the whole of the returns of a State will not be telegraphed to country towns upon polling-day, or even on the following day, before noon. The point mentioned by the honorable member for Parramatta was, I think, a good one. The proposal will undoubtedly result in congesting the wires upon polling-day, and will not benefit the revenue of the Postal Department. As that Department is now being carried on at a loss, I think that we ought to have a statement from the Postmaster-General in regard to the matter.

Mr. FISHER(Wide Bay).- I am rather surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Coolgardie, because he, like myself,, represents a large constituency. I ask him to consider the difficulties which confront small settlements in the back-blocks.

Mr Mahon - I never heard the honorable member eloquent about them before.

Mr FISHER - This is a proposal to send information which will be of great interest to partisans in remote settlements, and I think it is a very proper one. In my own State a great number of people exhibit a keen interest in elections both for the State and the Commonwealth. It is a very good thing to cultivate that interest. Upon that ground I appeal to the honorable member for "Coolgardie to allow the clause to pass. Personally, I believe that it will add to the revenue of the Postal Department, although not to such an extent as to result in a congestion of the lines. 1 cordially support the new clause.

Amendment agreed to.

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