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Tuesday, 30 June 1903

Mr McCAY (Corinella) - I should like to draw the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to what, as far as I .can make out, is the too prevalent practice of the Postal Department in its method of economizing. I dare say that this method is found operating in other States as well as Victoria, but it is surprising to find what a number of small country postal services are being closed up on the plea of economy. It has always seemed to me that these cheap services, which connect the remote country districts of Australia with the centres of commerce, are very valuable ; and the closing of them does not effect a very large saving. Yet, though they are amongst the last which should be closed, they are the first. Cases of this kind have occurred in the district which I have the honour to represent. Small services have been closed on account of the loss of £3 or £4- a year, although the effect of closing them is to cut the people affected off altogether from any business or social communication with the outside world, unless they make use of their own horses or their own vehicles.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister must make the Department pay.

Mr McCAY - H - He must do so as far as possible ; but I have always understood that the principle underlying uniform postage is that the districts where the delivery of letters costs more than the penny or twopence paid for postage are compensated for by those in which the cost is less, and that it is impossible to apportion the charge exactly to the expenditure incurred.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They ought to be asked for a guarantee.

Mr McCAY - I am not referring simply to the opening of new services, but to the closing of services to which people have been accustomed for many years. Services costing, say, £10 a year, and the revenue in connexion with which is one-half or two-thirds that amount, have been closed with the result that a comparatively small number of people living 7, S, or 10 miles away from the post-office have to travel that distance to post to obtain their letters, and one is justified in protesting against what I at all events regard as a very false species of economy.

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