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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr REID (East Sydney) .- The Postmaster-General must be quite conscious of the fact that the Opposition have treated him very fairly in regard to the administration of his very important Department - a Department that must have caused him great anxiety. I wish to point out that the Postmaster-General in another Administration, of which I have still some recollection - I refer to the honorable member for Macquarie - set an excellent example to my honorable friend opposite - privately he is my friend, although politically he used a dagger on me - by furnishing, during, the debate on the Budget, a summary of the operations of the Department, which, in the matter of its completeness and the record of good work in a great Department, has not been excelled by. the information afforded by any Postmaster-General. The honorable member proved himself one of the most capable Postmasters-General that we have ever had. I repeat that he .gave the Committee a very long and lucid account of the operations of the Department, and I would remind the Committee that?, on this occasion, no such statement has been presented. I thought that in submitting these Estimates the Postmaster-General would have availed himself of the opportunity to give the Committee and the country some information - I do not ask for a long statement - in reference to the various projects connected with his Department.

Mr Brown - But we are dealing only with the Estimates relating to new works.

Mr REID - I may not have another opportunity to refer to these matters ; I may be in another place when the. general Estimates are under consideration. Mr. Lonsdale. - Where is the honorable member for Gwydir?

Mr REID - I find that the cry about members attending to their public duties in Melbourne is a most beautiful fiction. One can see scarcely an honorable member in the Chamber. The House has certainly not been crowded since I have been here, and I hope that when I am away honorable members will be more re- gular in their attendance in the Chamber. To- travel hundreds of miles in order to take part in the proceedings of the House and then not to attend here, is certainly, most ludicrous. As I happen to be present - it is, perhaps, a mere accident that I am - I desire the Postmaster-General, since he was not pressed for a statement during the Budget debate, to answer one or two questions with reference to the administration of his Department. In the first place, let me say that I am in favour of any expenditure under these, or any additional Estimates, to extend the conveniences of the Department throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I am prepared to vote any sum within reason to extend the benefits of the telegraph and telephonic system to the furthest corners of settlement in Australia. But I have no sympathy with the idea that the people in the pioneering districts demand penny postage. I do not suppose that they get a letter once in three months.

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