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Wednesday, 27 July 1904

Mr REID (EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should like to ask the Postmaster-General whether I have made a mistake in assuming that the Post and Telegraph Department and the Federal Government will do everything that is at all reasonable to meet the convenience of the Victorian public in this matter, as they would wish to meet the convenience of any other State Government and people? I hope there is such a disposition - I feel sure that there is - and that it is merely a question of detail which has now arisen - that 'is to say, as to the best means of giving effect to the arrangements.

Mr MAHON - I can assure the right honorable member for East Sydney that the Post and Telegraph Department has done everything possible with the object of meeting the convenience of the various States. I would add that that has been done especially in the case of Victoria.

Mr Reid - And the Postmaster-General still has the same disposition?

Mr MAHON - Undoubtedly ; we desire to meet the convenience of the States Governments in every possible way recognising that, as the honorable member for Echuca has said, we are serving the same taxpayers. I' may add that, as a matter of fact, the number of Commonwealth officers engaged in performing duties for the Slate of Victoria is greater than in any other State. There are no less than 292 officers of the Post and Telegraph Department who are discharging purely State functions in Victoria ; there are 164 of them who are engaged in distributing old-age pensions, twenty-four acting as registrars, and seventy-three acting as collectors of revenue under the Commissioner of Taxes.

Mr Watson - They are not solely engaged in that work.

Mr MAHON - Certainly not.

Mr McColl - They are paid by the State I presume?

Mr MAHON - I do not think so. The estimated value of the work done by these officers in Victoria is ,£5,800, whereas the total payment, so far as I can see, is a little over £200. So that I think there can be no complaint on that score.

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