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Thursday, 20 June 1946

Mr Bernard Corser r asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

Will he consider a substantial reduction in postal and telegram and telephone rates, to come into operation in the next financial year and to operate from the 1st July?

Mr Calwell - The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer : -

The matter of effecting a reduction in the postal, telegraph and telephone rates is one which must be considered in relation to budgetary requirements as a whole. The Government is still faced with exceptional financial obligations resulting from Australia's participation in the war and it is important that as much as possible of this expenditure should be met from general revenue. Whilst the Government is naturally anxious that the charges for post office services should be based on a low and favorable scale, it is regretted that, for the reasons mentioned, it is not practicable to reduce the tariffs at this stage or to indicate when it will be possible to do so. Honorable members may rest assured, however, that the matter will be reviewed sympathetically immediately the financial conditions permit.

Mr Francis s asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

1.   Will the Government consider an early removal of the war postage tax?

2.   In view of the substantial post office surpluses what are the reasons for its present impositions?

Mr Calwell - The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -

1.   The Government intends to give consideration to the removal of the warpostage tax immediately the financial conditions permit.

2.   Post office earnings are paid into general revenue, and the special charge of a halfpenny per postal article was prescribed by Parliament for the purpose of assisting the Government to meet the exceptional obligations arising from the war. Unfortunately, these obligations did not end with the cessation of hostilities and heavy commitments resulting from the successful prosecution of the war have still to be met. Consequently, it is regretted that the circumstances preclude the discontinuance of the surcharge at present.

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