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Tuesday, 27 September 1904

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) - I am glad that this discussion has taken place upon the question of the establishment of telephonic communication, even though it may, to some extent, anticipate debate upon a motion dealing with the same subject, which I had placed upon the business-paper. I have frequently had occasion to draw attention to the need which exists for providing telephonic facilities in my own electorate, and ever since I have been a member of this Parliament I have been endeavour!]-);! to secure the establishment of a telephone office at a place called Miranda. As evidencing the difficulties which are placed in the way of reasonable telephonic extension, I mav mention that Miranda is distant from Sydney only about thirteen miles. Under the 'existing system, city and suburban rates are charged within a radius of ten miles of the metropolis. Beyond that distance a special charge is levied. ' In some instances, however, the ten-miles limit is exceeded without any extra charge being imposed. I know of one line which extends twelve and a half miles from Sydney, and upon which the city and suburban rates are charged. In the case of Miranda, an additional half-mile only would require to be covered. I obtained a guarantee of twenty subscribers from residents in the vicinity, provided that they could obtain telephonic communication at the city and suburban rates. Although the local post-office is situated within a few hundred yards of a private telephone wire, I have been unable to obtain that brief extension during the whole time that I have occupied a seat in this House. Unfortunately, it has been customary for previous Postmasters-General to rely too much upon the reports of the departmental officers without taking the trouble to personally investigate individual applications, and to deal with them upon their merits. The trouble with departmental officers is that, whenever they are called upon for reports, they base their estimates upon the most elaborate schemes imaginable. I am glad that in the present Postmaster-General, we have a practical man of keen common sense and business ability, who is prepared to disregard these elaborate reports, and to so utilize existing facilities as to provide cheap telephonic communication wherever it is possible to do so. In the case of Miranda, notwithstanding that I had obtained a guarantee of twenty subscribers, upon the basis of the city and suburban rates, the departmental officer reported, as the result of his investigation, that there would not be halfadozen calls a week there, although the locality is thickly populated. When I tell honorable members that it is a . place which is visited by hundreds of people every week, upon the very face of it his report is absurd. I trust that when the Estimates-in-Chief are under consideration, provision will be made for telephonic extension, and for giving effect to a cheaper system than that which has been hitherto adopted.

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