Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 2 July 1941

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - I congratulate the Government upon its action this evening in agreeing to the adjournment of the second-reading debate on the National Fitness Bill. I trust that it will adhere to that procedure in this chamber in the future even if, at times, it means keeping the House of Representatives waiting for the return of bills. The Senate must not continue to act merely as a rubber stamp, or a sausage machine, by putting through important measures immediately they are transmitted to this chamber. Honorable senators should be given sufficient time to study such measures in order that they can debate them intelligently. That procedure was followed in this chamber for a few months after the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator McLeay) was appointed Leader of the Senate, and it did much to improve the prestige of this chamber. I am glad to notice that the Government is again reverting to that procedure.

I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to the urgent necessity for erecting a second telegraph line between Western Australia and South Australia. When the Minister for Supply and Development was PostmasterGeneral, he visited Western Australia and inquired into this proposal. I know that the postal authorities in Western Australia are most anxious that the additional line be provided. The Minister gave the matter sympathetic consideration. The work is estimated to cost £175,000, but such expenditure is amply justified, particularly in view of conditions caused by the war. In ordinary circumstances civilians find it most difficult to obtain telephonic communication with the eastern States, but under war conditions that difficulty is magnified many times, because the military authorities, (mite properly, have first call upon the existing line. Often these authorities utilize the line for hours at a time, and during that period civilian communications are held up. In view of the very sympathetic consideration which the Minister for Supply and Development gave to this proposal when he was Postmaster-General, I am extremely sorry that the work was not undertaken before he relinquished control of the Postal Department. I now ask him to bring the matter to the notice of his successor in order that his promise that the proposal would be urged upon the Government may be honoured. I understand that a second line will provide not merely a double telephonic and telegraphic service, but will also enable the present broadcasting service to be multiplied tenfold. I hope that this additional communication between Western Australia and the eastern States will be provided as soon as possible.

Debate interrupted.

Suggest corrections