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Tuesday, 26 July 1904

Mr WATSON (Bland) (Treasurer) .The Government would not be justified in doing more with a view to relieving the unemployed -than carry out those works which in any case would be necessary. My honorable colleague the Minister of Home Affairs is now expediting the carrying out of works which have been authorized, or which we feel pretty certain must be undertaken and are likely to get the approval of Parliament. There is no doubt that, before very long, in all our large centres, the undergrounding of these wires will become_ an absolute necessity. The number of wires that we now have will be nearly doubled within a comparatively short time owing to the installation of a metallic return in connexion with the telephone system. Itwill soon become imperative to nut the wires under the road, so as not to interfere with the convenience of the people. For some time past we have had to incur considerable expenditure owing to the necessity of putting in other alterations. In Sydney, for instance, a large expenditure on the Post Office will not be completed until the end of this year. Constructing, as we do ar present, all our works out of revenue we cannot be expected to undertake everything in one year.

Mr Mauger - Not quite ; but Melbourne is not' likely to over-lap Sydney, or vice versa.

Mr WATSON - No; I admit that the expenditure is debited against the State in which it is incurred. The Minister of Home Affairs has just informed me that he will give every consideration to this matter, and, in conjunction with the PostmasterGeneral, see how far these necessary works can be pushed on. In view of the question which the honorable member for Hume asked about a week ago, the Government have been considering the position of the Manufactures Encouragement

Bill. At a Cabinet' meeting held on Monday night, it was decided to allow the honorable member to take up the Bill, and to afford time for its consideration, after the more urgent matters on our programme have been disposed of.

Sir William Lyne - As soon as thi-, state of Government business will allow, I suppose?

Mr WATSON - Yes. ;

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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