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Tuesday, 25 November 1941

Mr COLLINS (Hume) .-I support the remarks of the honorable member for Corangarnite (Mr. McDonald). Increased postal, telegraphic and telephonic facilities should be available to people in country districts. There is a sustained request to-day for the de-centralization of many public activities. I believe that life in country districts would be greatly encouraged if the services provided by the Postmaster-General's Department were more freely available to the people there.

Mr Clark - Why did not the honorable member make a move in that direction, while he was Postmaster-General?

Mr COLLINS - I made a considerable move, but unfortunately insufficient time was available in which to carry out the programme that I had envisaged. The Postmaster-General's Department is one of the important revenue-producing agencies of the Commonwealth, but unfortunately its profits may not be applied for the expansion of the department's activities. New works and buildings have to be provided through the Department of the Interior which, because of war exigencies, is not able to keep pace with the building programme which it is expected to carry out. For a number of years requests have been made for the establishment of a trust fund within the Postmaster-General's Department, into which moneys could be paid and from which they would be available for the enlargement of the department's services as required. This variation of procedure was suggested during the period when the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) was Postmaster-General, and also in the periods during which the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), Senator McLeay and I administered the department. Throughout that time the Department of the Interior was unable to provide the new buildings and services desired by the Postmaster-Gen eral'3 Department. My view is that work of this nature should be let by contract to private firms. I believe that if that policy >were applied, the Postmaster-General's Department would be able to render a much better service than at present to the general community, and especially to people living in country districts.

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