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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Sir FREDERICK STEWART (Parramatta) (7:23 AM) . - Complaints are frequently made that the Postal Department has adopted a niggardly attitude in regard to the provision of public telephone, facilities in suburban areas, and ' this probably applies to country districts as well. It has been the practice of the department to require residents to guarantee a minimum revenue before a public telephone will be provided. Until recently it was generally assumed that the department expected to be reimbursed for the cost of installation and to be guaranteed against loss in the operation of the telephone. However, in response to a question by myself as to particulars regarding how the amount of the guarantee was arrived at, I was informed that the department did not require merely to be reimbursed for outlay and for cost of operation, but that it expected a return equal to that from the average private subscriber's telephone, and the amountwas fixed at £28 a year. In many places in my electorate where public telephones are needed, it would obviously be impossible for this much revenue to be obtained. Private business enterprises, particularly those that are as profitable as is the post office, are generally prepared to provide services even at a loss at the beginning, in the hope that eventually they will become payable, and I suggest that the Postal Department might well follow this example so that the convenience of a public telephone may be afforded to people who are not in a position to subscribe for a telephone for themselves.

I have received many complaints regarding the delivery of telegrams received at allowance post offices. In many instances brought under my notice telegrams of serious import, such as those relating to deaths or the time of funerals, have been delivered the next day. In other cases their delivery has depended upon whether or not some one passing the post office was going in the direction of the residence of the addressee. A statement was made some little while ago that the persons lodging telegrams for offices where there was no delivery would be informed of this fact, but I am afraid that in practice this is not being done, because I am still receiving complaints that the non-delivery of telegrams has caused a grave concern to addressees. I hope that steps will be taken to remedy this situation.

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