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Thursday, 4 May 1939

Mr RANKIN (Bendigo) . - I draw the attention of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Harrison) to the dilapidated state of the post office building at Charlton, a town of about 3,000 inhabitants in my electorate. This building was constructed in the late '70's. Although there are 400 subscribers on the Charlton exchange, persons wishing to 1 se the public telephone at this post office are obliged to approach a window to put in their calls and to wait outside on the street until the calls come through. The building is absolutely out of date. Eight employees, including two females, are obliged to work in one large room. No sanitary conveniences are provided in the building for the staff, who are obliged to use either those at the postmaster's private residence or those at an hotel across the street. Furthermore, because there is only one means of egress and exit for the use of the public, considerable congestion is caused at the . post office when mail arrives in the afternoon. The scene at the building on some occasions reminds one of a football scrum. In view of the huge profits of the Postal Department and the fact that this office has a big revenue, including about £1,000 a year from the local broadcasting station 3CV, it is a disgrace that no improvements have been made to this building, which stands to-day just as it was constructed in 1879. It is now in danger of collapsing. One can put one's hands in cracks in the wall, whilst recently the building was further damaged by flooddings. It is now unsafe. The former Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron) promised to inspect the building. I hope that his successor will honour that promise at an early date, because it is absolutely essential that something shall be done.

I agree with the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) and with the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) that some change should be made in the administration of repatriation matters. It would seem that some of the boards set up in the interests of returned soldiers now consider their job to be to prevent applicants from receiving pensions. The Appeal Tribunal is composed largely of legal men who apparently seek legal reasons for withholding pensions. One man in my electorate was sent away from France three times during the war because of asthma. Upon his return to Australia, being a decent citizen, he decided that so long as he could work and keep his family, he would make no claim upon the Government. To-day, unfortunately, he cannot work, but he has been refused a pension on the ground that his disability could not be attributed to war service, although, in fact, he is suffering from the disease that caused his evacuation from the front line. It is" high time that action was taken to remedy all such injustices.

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