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Tuesday, 22 July 1902

Mr BROWN - It is something like 30 miles. I want to show how these regulations operate. To the west of Dandaloo is another settlement known as Lansdale, and whilst the honorable member for Parramatta was Postmaster-General of New South Wales I applied to him on behalf of the settlers there for telephonic communication with Dandaloo. An estimate was made, and only a simple guarantee was asked for. No arbitrary condition, such as the enforced payment of a sum of money into the bank to the credit of the Postmaster-General, was imposed. In connexion with that work, which involved the construction of 30 miles of line, all that was asked for was a guarantee of between £60 and £70. The settlers, however, were rather afraid to face such an obligation. I ascertained that the postal revenue derived from the settlement exceeded the cost of the mail service, andupon representations being made to him the Postmaster-General decided to place the surplus as a set-off against any loss incurred in connexion with the establishment of the telegraphic or telephonic service. The result of the adoption of this enlightened policy was that the settlers were required to give a guarantee of only£30, instead of £60, as originally suggested. This guarantee was readily forthcoming ; the line was constructed, and has proved to be revenueproducing from its inception. Indeed, the income from this source exceeded the anticipations of those who were interested in the carrying out of the work, so that the guarantors have never been called upon to pay anything. For the past five or six years that settlementhas enjoyed the advantages of this up-to-date means of communication. There is another little settlement in the same class ofcountry which has to contend with similar obstacles. Under the new regulations, its residents will be required to place a sum of £631 in the Savings Bank to the credit of the PostmasterGeneral as a guarantee that the department will not suffer loss by providing these facilities. This money will continue to lie in the bank for five years, even if the line prove a payable one. From my experience of these back-country settlements, I claim that it should be the aim of the Federal Government to afford them means of communication which will assist settlement and render the advantages of civilization accessible. It is lamentable to think that, should an accident occur in an isolated settlement where there are women and children, the only way of communicating with the nearest medical man, who is perhaps 30 or 40 miles distant, is by messenger on horseback. I unhesitatingly affirm that the policy adopted by New South Wales in this connexion was an enlightened one, whilst that of the Federal Government is a retrogressive one. The demands which are now being made upon the small settlement to which I have referred will absolutely prevent the settlers from securing the advantages which they have hitherto enjoyed. If this sort of thing does not make federation stink in the nostrils of the country people nothing will do so. I think that the Government will be acting wisely if they review the regulations and see whether it is not possible to frame them on the enlightened lines adopted by the postal authorities in New SouthWales prior to the transfer of that department to the Commonwealth. I have other communications of a similar character. I asked for a short extension from the telegraph station of Ungarie to a small settlement at Bena. That would have been carried out under the old system of a guarantee of something like £30, the distance,, being not nearly so large as in the case I have mentioned. Communications which I hold in my hand are similar to the one I have read, with the difference that in this case £2.51 13s. 4d, is required to be placed to the credit of the Postmaster-General. In the interests of the settlements I have mentioned I hope the Government will see their way to alter the regulations.

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