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Thursday, 25 June 1903

Mr HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) - I wish to direct attention to the conditions prevailing throughout New South Wales, and especially in the electorate which I represent, with regard to the post and telegraph services. We have heard to-day that in certain parts of Victoria the telegraph service is very badly managed, and I can say the same thing with regard to the telephone services in my own district. The authorities appear to be disinclined to provide telephone exchanges, even though quite a large number of people signify their intention to become subscribers. The greatest difficulty is experienced in transacting business, owing to the want of reasonable facilities. At Wellington, for instance, a large and populous town, the business people are urgently in need of a telephone service, and have signified their desire to be connected with an exchange. They have satisfied the Department that the service would pay from the outset ; but the Government, although they have sent material into the district, and have called for tenders for the erection of the telephone wires, have for some reason stayed their hand. This has been going on for the last two years, and although I have made repeated applications to the Minister, no satisfactory explanation has been given. At the last moment we have been told that there will have to be some alterations made at the local postoffice, and that the new work must be held in .abeyance until that change can be effected. In the meantime, apparently, the whole of the people in the town are to be kept waiting for facilities which should be immediately provided. The tradespeople are placed at a great disadvantage, and I think the Postmaster-General should make some satisfactory explanation with regard to the delay. The residents of Trangie have for sometime past urged that they should have opportunities of carrying on their business with the settlers in the neighbourhood who are connected by telephone, in some cases, at their own expense. The Government will not open a telephone exchange in the town or provide a service between the town and the railway station, a half-mile distant, and the consequence is that it is really difficult to make the fullest use of the facilities which have been provided partly by private enterprise.' The residents have gone the length of saying that they will bear the cost of making the necessary connexions by telephone, but the authorities will neither put up the lines nor permit the townspeople to do so. The Department appears to be in a state of stagnation, and it would seem that the Ministerial head of it is incompetent. Mr. Scott appears to direct all post and telegraph affairs, and from one end of Australia to the other the same complaints are made. Therefore I think it is time that we should have some explanation of the delay now occurring and as to the inefficiency and incompetence displayed. I have received the following letter from a resident of Goolma written under date 20th J une : -

Over two years ago a numerously-signed petition was presented to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, asking to have the place connected by telephone with either Mudgee or Yamble, the former for preference. Several reputable well-to-do settlers gave their signatures as willing to become guarantors. After a lapse of over a 3'ear we received a letter from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, offering to connect with M!udgee providing a deposit of £236 13s. 4d. be lodged in cash, or with Yamble for a cash deposit of £116 13s. 4d. The proposed guarantors are not agreeable to port with so much, cash for the merely nominal interest paid by the Savings Bank. On these terms it is impossible to get the connexion. I have seen in the papers and have heard from other sources that 3'ou haveinterested yourself in our behalf in this direction, and on behalf of the residents of Goolma I have to thank you heartily for your past efforts and request that you again exert yourself to secure us the convenience of telephonic communication. I would have no difficulty in getting reliable men. as guarantors.

It is the duty of the Government, which enjoys a monopoly of the postal and telegraphic communication within the Commonwealth, to confer upon the people the facilities which are ordinarily enjoyed by every civilized community. In the district which I have the honour to represent there is a place called Bodangara, the residents of which are urgently in need of a post-office.. The population is a large one, and yet the people are compelled to obtain their correspondence through the medium of a general store. The tradespeople complain that all their business orders are transmitted by telephone, and repeated aloud in the store. That is an undesirable state of affairs, which the Government seem desirous of perpetuating, because whilst the inspector recommended some time ago that a separate post-office should be erected, no steps have yet been taken in that direction. I trust that the Attorney-General will bring these matters under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, with a view to providing the districts I have mentioned with facilities which, are urgently needed.

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