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Tuesday, 4 September 1906

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - What Senator Clemons does not know about Cairns and its requirements would fill a large library, and the task of supplying his deficiencies would be so colossal that I do not propose to undertake it at this hour of the evening. In my opinion, the proposed new post-office will not be adequate for the work to be transacted there. The plans have already had to be altered in order to provide for a larger number of private letter-boxes, there being now over 200 of these rented. The Cairns post-office is one of the most important distributing offices in Queensland, mail matter being made up there for a large area of country inland and as far as the Gulf and Burketown. There is a fair-sized mail room, but it is totally inadequate for the work which has to be done there.

Senator Clemons - What was the value of the old post-office?

Senator GIVENS - It was built twentytwo or twenty-three years ago, since which time a number of gunyahs and lean-to's ha ve been added, making it a conglomerate structure, without any definite character. The Department propose to replace it with a one-storied building, shifting to the rear a structure which was erected twenty-three years ago, to be used there as the residence of the postmaster. That, in my opinion, is a mistake. A new two-storied building should have been erected, to provide quarters for the postmaster in the upper story. There is not a village or township in Tasmania with half the population of Cairns which does not possess a better and more expensive post-office, and there are places in Queensland with a population one-half or onethird that of Cairns which are better off. Stanthorpe, for instance, has a post-office which cost the State Government £7 ,500, and its population is only one-third that of Cairns. Then in Victoria there are places with a population only one-fourth that of Cairns, possessing post-offices on which more money has been spent. Senator Clemons has not objected to other post-offices.

Senator Clemons - Yes, I have. I objected to the Warracknabeal post-office last year.

Senator Findley - What is the population of Cairns?

Senator GIVENS - The white population of Cairns is about 5,000, and there are over 20,000 white persons in the district When the coloured labour there now has been deported, the white population will increase rapidly. The mining districts at the back of Cairns which are served by this post-office are increasing in population enormously, and within the next ten years the accommodation will have to be doubled to make it adequate.

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