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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Mr LANE (Barton) (6:44 AM) .- I direct attention to the unsatisfactory state of affairs existing at the Kogarah telephone exchange which has been in a veritable muddle for the last twelve months. Possibly the trouble may be due to the laying of fresh cables, but in view of the inconvenience caused to subscribers to this exchange, the Postmaster-General, I suggest, should agree to reduce the charges to them by 25 per cent. One morning I got as many as five wrong numbers in succession. Several subscribers to this exchange have assured me that they have discontinued using their telephone, because they had found the service so unsatisfactory that it paid them better to employ messengers. It is useless to continue to tell the people that automatic and manual exchanges can work satisfactorily in conjunction. Experience has definitely proved that they cannot do so. Unfortunately, even medical practitioneres are not being given a satisfactory telephone service. I know of doctors who have specially asked the exchange to put through to them without delay certain expected calls, but the calls have not come and the persons desiring the services of the particular doctors have had to go to their surgeries at all hours of the night in order to obtain their services. The situation is entirely unsatisfactory.

I have frequently been told that some of the difficulty is due to inability to secure supplies of cable. From one source in the department I have been told that the rearmament policy has made it impossible to obtain cables, but " understrappers " have told me quite a different story. I am beginning to think that the Postmaster-General is merely a figurehead. If he has too much work to do in consequence of having to act as Attorney-General and Leader of the Government in the Senate, means should be found to relieve him of some of his duties. This great profit-making department should be called upon to give satisfactory service to the public which provides its revenue.

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