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Thursday, 26 May 1904

Mr PAGE (Maranoa) - It is most remarkable that a thousand people living on islands within a few hours' sail of Melbourne should be cut off from mail and telegraphic communication with the rest of the world for so long a time as the honorable member for Darwin has mentioned. There must have been something rotten in the state of Denmark prior to the establishment of Federation, or the Tasmanian and Victorian Governments would surely have arranged for a weekly mail. The 'islanders have my entire sympathy, because in the district which I represent there are many who know what it is to be practically shut off from the rest of the world. In many parts of my electorate the residents do not receive a mail once a month. It seems almost incredible that in this year of grace there should be no regular mail communication with King Island. The honorable member for Darwin has made out a good case, and the PostmasterGeneral, who has fought more strenuously than has any other honorable memberf or reasonable mail facilities for his own constituents, must surely sympathize with the motion.

Mr McCay - But he was not PostmasterGeneral when he fought in that way.

Mr PAGE - That, of course, alters the position. We have it on the authority of two of the representatives of Tasmania that a steamer trading between Victoria and Tasmania passes King Island twice a week, and there should be no difficulty, therefore, in arranging for a better mail service at a reasonable cost. If new expenditure were incurred in this direction I am sure that no objection would be offered. I trust that the Postmaster-General will see his way clear to give the residents of these islands, who are living where perhaps many of us would not care to go, better mail facilities than they at present possess.

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