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Wednesday, 19 May 1920

Mr WISE (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Postmaster-General) - The answers to the hon orable member's questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Mr. (now Sir Robert) Anderson's report was made in July, 1915. I became PostmasterGeneral in February, 1920, so that the duty of dealing with that report did not devolve upon me, and conditions have entirely changed in the meanwhile. The recommendation in the report dealt with the wiping out of a deficit of £501,456, which it was proposed to meet by decreasing staff in the first year to the extent of£ 120,000, and increasing rates, &c., to the extent of £384,000. From a perusal of the departmental balance-sheets for the past two years, it will be seen that that deficit has been converted by the Department into a surplus of £387,381 for 1917-1918, and £524,644 for 1918-1919, notwithstanding an increase of over £1,000,000 in salaries under awards of the Arbitration Court during the period 1915- 1919. Viewing the above figures, and taking into account the increase of 38 per cent. in the revenue, and the large increase in the business, of the Department, it will be apparent that Sir Robert Anderson must have based his suggestion for a permanent reduction of the staff on erroneous information. So far as the Economy Commission is concerned, the bulk of their estimated savings appears to me to be arrived at on what I regard as a wrong basis. However, their principal recommendation is that the Department be managed by a Commission, and obviously action by the Government on that question must precede any steps in regard to matters of detail.

3.   Inquiries are being made.

4.   No revenue is received from advertisements, as advertisements are not printed in the telephone lists, excepting for repatriation purposes.

5.   The question of advertising in the telephone list has been considered from time to time by the Department, and tenders were invited for the rights to advertise in the publication referred to; but the offers received were so unremunerative that it was decided not to proceed with the matter.

6.   Reduction of subscribers' entries to one line, deletion from country lists of information regarding trunk line stations and charges, deletion from main metropolitan lists of particulars regarding public telephones. These are under consideration.

7.   Yes.

8.   It is not usual, and the expenditure would not be justified. If the honorable member wishes to see them, I shall be pleased to let himdo so when they have been dealt with.

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