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Thursday, 19 July 1906

Mr FULLER (Illawarra) . - There are one or two matters to which I should like to refer before the debate closes. Statements of a very serious character have been made in connexion with the recant visit to England of Captain Creswell. It has been asserted by several honorable members that this officer deliberately left England without taking advantage of an excellent opportunity afforded him to witness the naval manoeuvres about' to take place there, and that he came back to Australia without being recalled by his Minister. In the circumstances it appears to me that the matter is one of so serious a character that, if the Minister does not give a satisfactory answer to the statements made, the adjournment of the House should be moved in order to deal ' with it. I trust that the Minister will be able to give a satisfactory answer to the statements which have been made by honorable members, and to statements to the same effect which have appeared in the press of the Commonwealth. About a fortnight ago I directed the attention of the Postmaster-General to a condition of affairs in the Sydney Post Office, which for a long time past has been causing inconvenience to thousands of people in that city. I refer to the state of the principal lift in the office. It is over five months since that lift got out of order, andi,, although I drew attention to the matter a fortnight ago, when I had occasion, the day before yesterday. to go to the post-office in connexion with the business of my constituency, I still found the notice, " Lift not working." From inquiries I made it would appear that from lot to 150 persons use that lift daily when it is in working order. Thousands of persons must therefore have 'been inconvenienced' during the time it has not been working. The fact that the principal lift in the Sydney Post Office, where so much business is transacted, should be allowed to remain out of order for over five months, is certainly a disgrace to the Department.

Mr Ewing - Was not something said concerning the matter a week or two ago?

Mr FULLER - Yes, I asked the PostmasterGeneral a question on the subject, and the honorable gentleman said that he would make inquiries. When I visited the Sydney Post Office the day before yesterday, I found that nothing had been done, and the lift was still closed. The VicePresident of the Executive Council was in charge of the Post Office Department for some time during the last four or five , months, and I think the honorable gentleman ought to discover who is to blame in connexion with this matter.

Mr Ewing - I shall send a wire on the subject to-morrow. *

Mr FULLER - Another matter to which I should like to direct attention was the subject of a question yesterday bv the honorable and' learned member for Parkes. I refer to the removal of telegraphic instruments from the Royal Exchange, Sydney. The Vice-President of the Executive Council is aware that the Royal Exchange is situated in one of the most important business centres of Sydney. It is in the midst of the big warehouses, and close to the wool warehouses on Circular Quay. The telegraphic instruments provided at the Exchange were a convenience, not only to the commercial people employed in the immediate vicinity, but to hundreds of country people visiting Sydney in connexion with the wool sales.

Mr Ewing - What has happened?

Mr FULLER - The instruments have been taken away, and no telegrams can be sent from that office.

Mr Ewing - Not from the Exchange post-office?

Mr FULLER - I am informed that telegrams are not accepted there, but have to be sent to the General Post Office. I feel sure that the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, and also the Minister of Trade and Customs, both of whom know the position of the place, much recognise the necessity for keeping that office available to the public for the sending of telegrams.

Mr Ewing - There surely must be some mistake.

Mr FULLER - Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that Commonwealth representatives of New South Wales cannot walk down the street without being met by business people and others who complain of "Melbourne rule." The people have found out that there is a great difference as between the administration now and the administration when the Post and Telegraph Department was controlled by the local authorities. The feeling which I have indicated is a growing one; and Ministers ought to do all in their power to see that it is removed, because it only tends to produce irritation and ill-feeling between the people of New South Wales and the people of other parts of the Commonwealth. I should like to refer to another matter connected with my own constituency. During the absence of the Postmaster-General in Europe, I drew the attention of the Minister administering the Department to the lack of telephone facilities in the important centre of Bulli. The Minister representing the Postmaster-General is a native of the district, and knows it to be one of the most important coal-mining centres in Australia. Some considerable time ago the PostmasterGeneral agreed that a telephone exchange should be established there, and I may mention that it was to be established on the toll system. Mr. Nelson, the Chief Electrician of the Department in Sydney, visited Bulli and met the residents; when the difference between the two systems had been explained, it was unanimously agreed to adopt the toll system. I have not been able to ascertain all the facts, but, for some reason or other, although this meeting took place long before the PostmasterGeneral went to Europe, the telephone exchange is not yet in working order. A very large amount of business is done at Bulli, and the Minister knows the necessity there is for quick communication with Sydney and other parts of New South Wales.

Mr Ewing - I thought the exchange had been constructed.

Mr FULLER - So did I until the other day ; and I cannot understand the reason for the delay. I have received a complaint in this connexion from the local Progress Association, and I take this opportunity to bring the matter under the notice of the Minister, feeling sure that he will have inquiries made.,.

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