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Thursday, 6 May 1915

Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) .- I rise to second the motion, and to briefly support the well-thought-out arguments of my honorable friend. To-day we have been treated to an able exposition by the Minister of Defence of many reasons why the rural population of Australia should be increased. In elaborating his arguments, he laid particular stress upon the desirability of removing the imputation of isolation which rural settlers would suffer from if they were asked to settle the interior without railways.

The PRESIDENT - I ask the honorable senator not to refer to a previous debate except by way of illustration.

Senator BAKHAP - Very well, sir, but. I will say that it is a pressing necessity that the rural population of Australia be increased by every means in our power. We have to bear in mind that in the great republic of the United States the question of concentration of the population in urban centres is not nearly so acute as in Australia. The admittedly acute position here is becoming more so every day. I have not any knowledge of the particular article from which Senator Keating quoted, but I do know in a general way that in the United States special efforts are made by telephone companies to give telephonic facilities to rural populations, and that it is a rare thing in America to find a substantial farmer without a telephone linking him up with the closest township of importance in his district.

The PRESIDENT - I think it is rather a wide application of this motion for the honorable senator to make that statement.

Senator BAKHAP - With all due deference to you, sir, I think not. I believe that, in order to determine the mental attitude of every member of the Parliament to this question, and in no spirit of hostility to the Postal administration, such a return may very well be asked for. For it is only by a knowledge of what preparations in regard to material the Department has made that individual members of the Parliament can properly address themselves to a consideration of this undoubtedly important question. It is with a full sense of the importance of the question as a whole, and of the bearing which the motion has on the question, that I have pleasure in seconding it.

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