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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr WILKS (Dalley) .- I merely desire to emphasize the fact that the honorable member for Franklin has placed his finger upon a very weak spot in our postal administration - I refer to the evil of centralization. I believe that the PostmasterGeneral has more work cast upon him than has any of his colleagues. A good deal of that work is due to the system of centralization which has been adopted, and which is opposed to the efficient management of the service. Seeing that we have appointed in the different States high-salaried officers in the persons of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral, it seems ridiculous that thev should be required to refer the decision of the most trivial matters to the central office in Melbourne. If these officers cannot be invested with a certain amount of discretionary power, they ought not to be retained in the service. In my humble judgment, whilst this system of centralization is permitted to continue, the true interests of the

Department must suffer. The proposed vote in respect of wireless telegraphy is one upon which honorable members should be afforded some information. I have in my mind a speech which was delivered by the Postmaster-General at the installation of the Marconi system at Queenscliff - a speech in which he pointed out the great advantages which it would confer upon the sea-travelling public. I maintain that, if the sum of £10,000 is intended to provide for the erection of suitable wireless telegraphic stations around the cost of Australia, it is altogether inadequate for the purpose. If, on the other hand, it is merely designed to cover the cost of the existing stations at Queenscliff and Devonport, the amount is too large. My own knowledge qf the Marconi system leads me to say that it is a very expensive one to instal upon vessels. Certainly, the ordinary ships trading around our coast could not afford to be fitted with it. Upon the large Atlantic liners I am aware that the system is installed, but honorable members must recollect that they cater for a class of very wealthy passengers, who can afford to transmit Marconigrams whilst voyaging between Liverpool and New York. That condition, however, does not apply to the ships which trade along the coast of Australia. I would further point out that neither the captain nor the officers of most vessels could successfully employ the Marconi system. It requires a very expert telegraphist to handle the machines, and he needs to be possessed of mechanical knowledge in case they should get out of order. These objections constitute a sufficient answer to the speech of the PostmasterGeneral at Queenscliff. If he can remove those objections, I shall be glad to see the people of Australia enjoying as uptodate communication, by means of wireless telegraphy, as is enjoyed by any other portion of the world.

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