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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro) (Postmaster-General) . - I should like to say that I quite agree with the representations made by the honorable member for North Sydney. On looking through the Estimates, I find that the amount provided this year in respect to metallic circuits is practically the same as that provided last year, although made up in a different way. The sum of £1,450 for telephone cables- has been provided for under item No. 2, which relates to the expenditure 'of a sum of £27,500. Another item of £1,450 for replacing cables will be charged to " Contingencies," instead of to the vote for metallic circuits. I agree with the honorable member that the telephone service is capable of great improvement. I shall, bear in mind the representations he has made. I am just as anxious as he is that the telephone system shall be improved, and no doubt we shall be able, by means of the metallic circuit, to improve it to a greater extent than is possible in any other way. In answer to the honorable member for Canobolas, I may say that I shall endeavour to see if I cannot meet his request. He appears to have made out a good case. I was surprised to hear the statement of the honorable member for Robertson that the condenser system is an absolute failure. It is after all only a commercial makeshift. It means telephoning over telegraph lines, with many breaks and " cross-overs," and in the circumstances the means cannot .be as satisfactory as is a line erected for telephonic purposes. If the honorable member will bring under my notice any case in which the condenser system has not worked satisfactorily, I shall be pleased to see whether improvements can be made. As the business under the condenser system increases, I shall be glad to 'put in extra wires wherever such a step may be deemed justifiable, for my desire is that the people shall have the very best telephonic service. I have made a note of the point raised by the honorable member for New England, and shall see whether his request can be met. It seems to be a very reasonable one. Some trouble has arisen with regard to the question of the metropolitan radius, to which reference has been made by the honorable member tor Lang. The whole question is being reconsidered. Some time ago a certain radius was fixed for the city of Sydney, and the honorable member has been most persistent in his representation that some suburbs which have rapidly sprung, up should be brought within that radius. The difficulty is that we cannot bring in one without bringing in the whole of them. Such a change would involve a very serious loss of revenue. There are also other ques-' tions - such as the establishment of new exchanges, which would necessitate a large expenditure - which must be considered in connexion with his proposal. Quite recently some alterations have been made in Western Australia, and also in Newcastle, and if it is possible to meet the wishes of the honorable member I shall toe pleased to do so. We wish, if possible, to meet the requirements of those who settle at some distance from centres of population, and we shall try to give that which the honorable member asks. All these changes, however, cannot be made at a moment's notice. They necessarily involve a large expenditure.

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