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Monday, 5 June 1939

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) - On the8th May, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) asked the following question: -

In view of the increased telephonic business and wireless communications between Tasmania and the mainland during the last ten years, will the Postmaster-General take immediate steps toincrease the lineage between Tasmania and the mainland, whichhas not been improved for twenty years?

On the 30th May, he asked a similar question regarding a breakdown of the service between the mainland and Tasmania, because of the failure of a line which had been in use for upward of twenty years. It is obviously incorrect to state that the line has been in use for upwards of twenty years, because there was no telephone communication between Tasmania and the mainland twenty years ago. Moreover, the statements of the honorable member in regard to delays to telephone business are at variance with the facts. The records which are regularly taken of the business transactions between Tasmania and the mainland indicate that, during the busy hours of the day, say from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the average delay rarely exceeds five minutes. During the late evening hours, say, between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., when concession rates operate, the. delay to business frequently reaches an average of 45 minutes, but this condition applies to all important circuits, and is unavoidable, in view of the cheap tariffs which apply. While the existing telephone channels, that is, two between Melbourne and Hobart, three between Melbourne and Laun ces ton, and one between Melbourne, King Island and Burnie, reasonably meet present-day requirements, careful consideration has been given to proposals for augmenting the present facilities, and an order has already been placed for the provision of additional channels of communication in the existing cable. The question of supplementing the submarine cable service by a radio link, which will be suitable for both telegraphic and telephonic purposes, is being exhaustively studied, and it is hoped to make these facilities available in the near future.

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