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Wednesday, 26 October 1904

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Postmaster-General) - The replies to the honorable, member's questions are asfollow : -

1.   The reason for making the clearance at what is in many cases an earlier hour, is to afford a greater convenience, and to insure that letters posted in the receiving boxes shall be despatched by the trains leaving Melbourne for the country at 2 a.m., thus securing delivery in the country. before 8 a.m., instead of in the afternoon, as previously. The result of the early clearance has been that an increased number of letters have been brought to the Melbourne office by it, while the number by the subsequent clearance has not been augmented, thus showing that more letters have been posted for the clearance at the earlier hour, and that there has been no increase that is perceptible between that hour and the clearance which reaches Melbourne between 11 a.m. and noon, as heretofore. The whole system of clearances from the receiving boxes in Melbourne and its suburbs is now being fully inquired into by competent officers, and, upon receipt of their report, the times of clearance will be reviewed, and such action taken as will secure the greatest convenience for all concerned, both in the city and in the country.

2.   For metropolitan area (night, 60 per cent.); for Ballarat, 9 per cent. ; for Bendigo, 9 per cent.

3.   No comparison of any value can be made in this respect between Melbourne and the other State capitals, as in every instance the clearances are made to suit the running of the trains and other local conditions. In Sydney the corresponding clearance is about midnight ; Brisbane, about 4.50 a.m. ; Adelaide, about 3.45 a.m. ; Perth, about 5.30 a.m. ; Hobart, about 6 a.m.

Mr Maloney - And Melbourne?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Postmaster-General) - I might say, in regard to Melbourne, that while it has been stated that the clearances are at 8.30 p.m., in a very large number of cases there has been very little alteration made, and the clearances range from 8.30 p.m. to midnight. My decision was to make the clearances as late as possible. The officers intrusted with the work felt that they could not make them later than the time mentioned. In the public interest, I have endeavoured to give the fullest convenience, not only to the Melbourne people, but to the people of the country. I appointed a board of officers competent to deal with this question to make a full inquiry, not only in regard to the night, but also in regard to the day clearances, with a view to making such arrangements as would give the greatest convenience to the greatest number of people using the Post Office.

Mr Maloney - Am I to understand that the clearances are at midnight in the city as well as in the suburbs?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Postmaster-General) - In some cases the clearances are at 8.30 and 9.30 p.m., but in the majority of cases the letters do not come in until midnight.

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