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Wednesday, 30 June 1915

Mr MATHEWS (Melbourne Ports) . - I should like to see justice done to the individual who .sent the letter to which the honorable member for Grampians has just referred, but I do not think that I should be called upon to vote blindly for the amendment.- If the fault rests with the Department, then, I think, a refund should be made; but I think an inquiry should be held. The incident referred to by the honorable member is not the only one that might be cited as showing the unbusiness-like methods of the Department. In my electorate the carriage of mails between the post-office and the railway station is conducted under the primitive system which was followed .sixty years ago. At South Melbourne and Port Melbourne every day at noon two young men may be seen pushing a hand-cart containing the mails from die post-office to the railway station, and returning with mails for inward delivery. At a certain time of the day, however, a motor car leaves the General Post Office for Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, and Windsor. Why that motor car is not used for all deliveries I do not know. If it were, then mails for my electorate could be cleared at the General Post Office later, md delivered at the suburban post-offices earlier than is now done. The exPostmasterGeneral promised to consider this matter, but nothing has yet been done. If the Department cannot adopt up-to-date methods, there must be something wrong.

I ask the Postmaster-General to take ai note of .my complaint and to deal with it. I wish now to :refer to one of the biggest miscarriages of justice that has ever taken place in connexion with the Department. The present postmaster 'at Prahran is a Mr. Patterson, who for some years acted as Postmaster and Divisional Returning Officer at South Melbourne.. He is not a political friend of mine, since he is one of those nasty old Conservatives who vote against our party, so that I am not led to speak for him because of any political motive. I knew him for years as Postmaster and Divisional Returning Officer at South Melbourne, and can say that he was always most assiduous in the discharge of his duties. No-- " boss " can always please his men, but those under Mr. Patterson, while he was at South Melbourne, will say that he carried out his work in. . a way that was a credit to himself and to the two Departments which he served. A position became vacant at Geelong, and this officer applied for it. I may state that this new position would have given him £20 a year more; but, although he had only five years to go before the statutory age of retirement^ and had an unblemished record as a postmaster, he was passed over in favour of a man whowas earning £80 a year less. Of course, we know that under circumstances of the kind there are always complaints, but it docs seem peculiar that such a case as this should have arisen. It certainly offers no inducement to any officer to give .any special attention to his duties; and I should certainly like the PostmasterGeneral to look into the matter. I believe that one of the reasons given is that this mail is sixty years of age ; but a reply to that is that, if he is not fit for the position at Geelong, he is not fit for Ms present .position. The Postmaster-General ought tosee that grossly unfair action of that sort is not permitted in the Post Office in thefuture.

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