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Thursday, 5 October 1911

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - I do not know what the Minister of Defence would have said of me if I had moved in this matter. He certainly could not have blamed me in the way in which he has blamed Senator McColl. I do not think that he had reason to blame Senator McColl as he did, judging from my experience of the Department in South Australia. I dare say that honorable sena- tors have heard of a run called Yongala, which was cut up for settlement, and which is situated not far from Terowie. It had a bi-weekly mail, and I think that it was carried on horseback. The Government wanted the residents to pay for- a third mail a week, otherwise it could not be approved. It has a rising population ; there is a number of farmers living in the neighbourhood. It was not the farming community which asked for "the establishment of penny postage. What they desired was to get letters as often as possible. What the people of Yongala wanted was to get three mails a week. They had paid for a service for one year, and when they consulted me on the matter, I advised them not to pay any -more. I am not blaming any particular Government in this matter. In my opinion, the Post and Telegraph Department was starved throughout its branches in years gone by, but not by any particular Government. I think that this motion is in the right direction. The requirements of the farming community should be considered, but Senator Pearce referred to them in an extreme manner.

Senator Pearce - They are now considered

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honorable senator spoke about individuals, but there is quite a number of persons who should be encouraged in their occupations. If the extra expenditure would amount to only a few hundred pounds, it should beincurred.

Senator Pearce - That is not the case.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Senator McCollhas stated that it is.

Senator Pearce - He is absolutely inaccurate.

Senator McColl - The figures were obtained from the Department. .

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - In the case o:f Yongala, the additional expenditure required was very small indeed. I experienced a great deal of trouble, but at last the Minister yielded to my application. Again, during the regime of the Deakin Government, the people of Snowtown, in South Australia, entered into ail agreement to have telephone communication established between that town and other centres. They lodged a deposit, but for a considerable time they were not allowed a connexion. As a member of the Postal Commission, Senator de Largie knows of this case, because Mr. Waddy, the Deputy Postmaster-General, in' his evidence before that body, referred to the position of Snowtown. When I interviewed this officer at Adelaide, he said to me, " I gave evidence about this case before the Postal Commission. It is a delicate matter for me to speak of, but as my statement is in print, I may as well tell you the facts. I need £6 to make the connexion with Snowtown, but I have not the money." That is how the Department has served a number of persons.

Senator de Largie - Who was in office at that time?

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The DeakinGovernment. I am not standing up here to denounce any Government, though this is a splendid subject for an electioneeringspeech.

Senator de Largie - That state of affairs does riot exist now.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - This occurred at the time when Mr. Deakin, as Leader of the Fusion Government, was calling out for a Dreadnought or two to give to England, although the Government had not£6 to give to the postal authorities to make a telephone connexion with Snowtown. There is no doubt that the Post and Telegraph Department has been starved all along the line. 1 hope that Senator Pearce will not look upon this as a party question. Before I was elected to the Senate, 1 told the farming community to which I belonged that their interests would have my first and last consideration. The people in the city can get three deliveries a day, but the poor farmers in some parts can only get two mails a week, or even less.

Senator Pearce - This Government is giving every consideration it possibly can.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I hope that the Minister will keep his temper. I do hot intend to be unfair to the Government ; I have the greatest confidence in them, but I do not like to hear even a Minister attack a speaker on the other side without some degree of reason. I do all that I can to promote the interests of the farming community.

Senator Pearce - Do you assume that this motion is moved in the interests of the farmers ?

Senator McColl - Does the Minister say that it is not?

Senator Pearce - If you say it is, you say what is not correct.

Senator McColl - You are a mean man.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I wish to be heard, please. If I had had the forethought of Senator McColl, I would have brought this matter before the Senate.

Senator McDougall - There seems to be a conspiracy.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - There is no conspiracy. Senator McColl and I, as a rule, do not act together politically, but whenever I find him fighting for fair play to persons in the back country I shall stand by him.

Senator Pearce - You are easily led.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am in favour of the report of the Postal Commission except in regard to this subject. The outside workers, the developers of the Commonwealth, must receive more consideration, and if the expenditure of a few thousand pounds will meet their wants it can be obtained by means of the land tax.

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