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Friday, 19 June 1903

Sir EDM UND BARTON (HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for External Affairs) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follow : -

1.   The attention of the Postmaster-General has been called to the statement in the Melbourne Argus referred to.He is not aware how the delay was caused, but a full inquiry is being made in all the States through which the telegram was transmitted. With respect to the frequency of interruptions, the Deputy Postmaster-General of Western Australia has reported as follows : - " Twenty-one days during the year the old coast line worked badly, and business was subject to delay, due principally to leakage caused by bad weather, and distributed over various sections ; two total interruptions occurred between Esperance and Israelite- one caused by gale blowing down poles, and the other by bush fires. Inland line, rod Coolgardie, working badly - once between. Balladonia and Eucla, and twice between Eucla and Eyre, caused by storms ; once between Coolgardie and Norseman, caused by pole falling ; and once through cross with local line."

2.   In the opinion of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of South Australia, who is an admitted expert, the additional line to Yardea on existing poles will be a distinct benefit as it will enable the Department to cope with the business.

3.   The charges proposed by the company for the use of its cable are - for ordinary telegrams, 3d. per word ; for Government telegrams,1½d. per word ; and far press telegrams,1d. per word.

4.   The Government proposes to provide a sum of £20,000 for the erection of an additional wire on the line from Perth to Eucla viâ Coolgardie, and this will be proceeded with as soon as the money is available. It is fully anticipated that this, together with the additional line viâ Yardea, will provide for the additional business which has accrued from the great reduction of the telegraph rate between Western Australia and the other States of the Commonwealth.

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