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Wednesday, 20 August 1902

Mr MANIFOLD (Corangamite) - It must be pleasant to the Minister in charge of the Bill to hear an honorable member complain that the rates for which it provides are too low. I do not think many honorable members have that complaint to make. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, tells us that his State will lose a considerable sum, at any rate in the first year, by the proposed reduction in telegraph rates, but, if I may be permitted to quote the honorableand learned member for Werriwa, I wish to say to him that the money will still be in the country, so that the South Australian Government will only have to tax its people to get it back. I am certain that lower rates will mean an increase in business which will prevent any loss of revenue, at any rate, after the first few years. My complaint is that the rates are too high. The rates for telegrams will be practically the* same .as those now prevailing in Victoria, except that both the address and signature will be charged for in addition to the actual message, which, of course, in most cases will mean a substantial increase in the cost. I regret that provision has not been made for universal penny postage throughout the Commonwealth. Our experience of the penny postage system in Victoria showed that the immediate loss was not so great as was expected, while the increase in busi- ness has been such that the probability is that the deficit will disappear in the course of a few years. With regard to the newspaper rates, I think that the charge should be Id. for 20 ozs. on the aggregate weight where a number are contained within one wrapper, and ½d. for every 10 ozs. instead of every S ozs. where the newspapers are posted separately. Most of our weekly newspapers weigh more than 8 ozs., and I do not see why, because their publishers give their readers more information and better paper than other publishers do, we should compel them to pay double postage. The honorable member for Parramatta stated that he believes it to be a fact that trains are run in Victoria to facilitate the distribution of newspapers, and that practically no charge is made for the service, so that the conditions here are almost the same as those prevailing in New South Wales ; but I have lived all my life in this State, and I never heard of a train being run for the advantage of the newspaper proprietors. Our country trains are despatched early in the morning for the convenience of the Postal department and of passengers, and while newspapers are sent by them in bulk to the various agencies, the railway authorities are paid for the carriage. However, as the various matters to which attention has been directed can be dealt with only in committee, I think "the debate at this stage should not be unduly prolonged, and, therefore, I shall not detain the House further.

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