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Thursday, 28 August 1902

Mr KENNEDY (Moira) - I am prepared to accept the amended proposition of the Government as representing a practical reduction throughout the service. We ought not, however, to go too far in this matter of reductions. I am prepared to give the public all the benefit which the service will permit, but we must not lose sight of the fact that there is an absolute loss at the present time on the Post and Telegraph department throughout the Commonwealth. We have not during the present discussion taken into consideration the important factor of the interest charges on the cost of postal and telegraphic construction throughout the Common-wealth, -which represent, about a quarter of a million sterling. That is practically a subsidy contributed by the general taxpayer for the benefit of those who use the post and telegraph service, and we are making reductions which, in some instances, amount to 33 per cent. The question arises whether the increased business will be sufficient to return the necessary revenue ; and past experience goes to prove that no such result will follow, and that consequently there is possibility of further loss. There is no possibility of introducing the zone system at the present time j and we must accept the situation. The honorable and learned member for Corio has pointed out that the country residents of Victoria will suffer a loss. on the charges for Inter-State telegrams to NewSouth Wales ; but it must not be forgotten that on the other hand a decided reduction is made in the cost of telegrams to South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. There will also be a gain in connexion with town messages ; and, under the circumstances, I am prepared to accept the amendment proposed by. the Government.

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