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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr KELLY (Wentworth) .- After listening to the debate, I am somewhat at a loss to determine what are the true functions of the Post and Telegraph. Department. I have always been under the impression that its chief function is to deal with the reception and transmission of letters awd messages; but I am beginning to think, after what I have heard during this debate, that one of its duties is to improve some of the cities that most need beautifying. The interest displayed on all sides with respect to this question leads me to believe that honorable members have in mind many prospective post-office clocks. This is a fitting occasion for the Minister to definitely state the Ministerial policy in regard to these matters. If we are to vote Government funds to one purpose,when they should be devoted to different purposes altogether, we shall deplete the revenue in a way previously unheard of. The Minister should clearly indicate that, in the opinion of the Government, it is not the duty of the Commonwealth to beautify buildings in the way suggested. Unless he does so, we shall have begging letters from almost every municipality in Australia, and the position of honorable members will be rendered much more difficult than it already is. I know 'of an instance in which the Department has definitely refused to acquire some ricketty buildings in the neighbourhood of a postoffice on the ground that to adopt such a course would be to go beyond its functions. If it is not to preserve the health of its own officers by the abolition of unhealthy buildings in the vicinity of its offices, surely it will exceed its functions if it builds towers to replace certain unsightly edifices such as the " pepper-box " at Launceston. This craze is obtaining on Parliament a stronger hold than it ought to have. The Postmaster-General must recognise the force of my argument, and I hope that the Minister in charge of these Estimates will see that it is necessary to do something, before it is too late, to check this spirit.

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