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Tuesday, 22 July 1902

Sir LANGDON BONYTHON (South Australia) - The position of Adelaide in regard to the new postal and telegraph regulations is, to say the least of it, peculiar. Much irritation exists there at the present moment, and this would have taken a more acute form but foi1 the curious fact that, although the regulations came into force on the first of the present month, they have not yet been published in South Australia.

Mr. L.E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I can sympathize with honorable members who wish to see telephonic communication extended in the country districts, but we must recognise the difficulties with which the Postmaster- General has to contend. I have presented to him several requests for the extension of telephone service, particularly to remote centres, and in some instances I felt that there was justice in his demand for proof that the service would yield a certain amount of revenue. We may disapprove of the stringency of the conditions, but it seems necessary that some stipulation should be made to guard the department against heavy loss. I think that a cash deposit should be made, but the PostmasterGeneral has erred on the side of stringency in requiring such a large guarantee. It must be remembered that the telephone is not established for the short period covered by the guarantee, but practically forall time, and unless the community to which telephone facilities are given is a progressive one, the department must ultimately become a heavy loser. The point to which I desire specially to refer is that mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, namely, the three minutes limit. Complaints have been made in Queensland, especially where longdistance telephones are in use. In the case of Warwick, which is about 169 miles from Brisbane, a fee of 2s. 6d. has to be paid for the privilege of conversing by telephone for three minutes. As a rule the telephone is used by merchants to settle the prices of goods which have been ordered by their customers.During these conversations, invoices have to be consulted perhaps, and before any conclusion can be arrived at, the persons conversing are rung off. Then a delay occurs, and they have to be reconnected in order that the business may be concluded, the charge made for the extended time bringing the total fee up to 5s. The people in Warwick think that it would be fair and reasonable if a reduced charge were made for the extension of the time beyond the first three minutes.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is done in New South Wales.

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