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Tuesday, 12 August 1902

Mr BROWN (Canobolas) - I do not profess to be fully seized of the whole of the details, but from information received within the past few days, it appears that differential treatment is being meted out to New South Wales. If such be the case, the honorable member for Macquarie is fully warranted in raising the question. New South Wales has for many years past enjoyed the benefit - and I use the word advisedly - of free newspaper distribution. An arrangement was made by which the Postal department paid to the Railways Commissioners a certain sum for the purpose of covering the carriage of newspapers sent from the newspaper offices in bulk to the various agents. Since the Postal department has been taken over by the Federal Government, that allowance has been discontinued, and the newspaper proprietors have been asked to pay to the Railways Commissioners the amount formerly provided by the Postal department. I understand that in other

States similar arrangements were in force, but that no such alteration has been made there as has been made in New South Wales. If the facts be as I have stated, there is differential treatment which I do not think the Government can justify. If it was the policy of the Government to stop this payment in New South Wales, they should have extended their policy to the other States.

Mr Deakin - So the Government did ; there is no likeness between the two sets of circumstances.

Mr BROWN - It would be just as well for the Acting Prime Minister to show that there is no such likeness, because there is a very strong impression that there has been unfair differential treatment. As to the special trains, I think it has been conclusively shown, by the Chief Traffic Manager before a parliamentary committee in New South Wales, that they are the best paying trains, and earn sufficient money to cover the cost of running, quite independently of the newspaper traffic.

Mr Watson - The State Railway de-, partment will not carry these papers without a subvention from the post-office.

Mr BROWN - So far as the Postal Rates Bill is concerned, it has been- shown by the Railways Commissioners that advantages will accrue to the States, but that measure is retrogressive legislation in New South Wales, and I hope it will be a long time before it becomes law.

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