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Thursday, 28 June 1906

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) .-! wish to bring under the notice of the Government a complaint which! is being made by a large number of municipal .councils as to the manner in which they are treated by the removal of telegraph poles without consulting their convenience. To explain the position I will read a communication which I received from the Town Clerk of Sydney on the 19th January last.

Mr Frazer - The complaint was made first by the City Council of Perth, which asked the concurrence of other councils in a certain course of action.

Mr JOHNSON - That mav be so. I do not know the genesis of the movement. The letter is as follows : -

I have the honour, bv direction of the Sydney Municipal Council, to invite your attention to a hardship under which local authorities in the

Commonwealth labour by reason of those provisions of the Federal Post and Telegraph Act that relate to the removal of telegraph and telephone poles. The provision referred to (section 85) makes the local authority liable for the cost of alterations to any pole belonging to the Postal Department, where such alterations are necessitated by the action of the former body, and whilst this appears reasonable enough at first sight, when regard is had to the fact that the Department can erect its poles wherever it pleases, without consulting the local authority in any way, and that (as the experience of this Council in connexion wilh its electric lighting scheme has abundantly shown) the positions chosen are often most unsuitable, it is at once obvious that the local authority is placed in a most unfair position in the matter. Were the Postal Department required to consult the local authority in connexion with the fixing of the positions of the telegraph and telephone poles, it is reasonable to suppose that the result would be mutually satisfactory, and if, under such circumstances, it afterwards became necessary to alter any pole by reason of works carried out bv the local 'authority, then the cost of such alteration would be a fair and legitimate charge against the latter body. Again, similar hardship is experienced by reason of the fact that no restriction is placed upon the Department regarding the height of the telegraph and telephone wires, and it would undoubtedly bring about a more equitable and satisfactory state of things for all concerned if the height of the wires was restricted so that they could not be fixed below a certain height or above a certain maximum height in any one span. I am to say that the Council will be glad if you, as one of the representatives of this State in the Federal Parliament, will interest 5'ourself in this matter, and endeavour to secure an amendment of the Post and Telegraph Act in the directions herein indicated. I mav say that it is very probable that such an effort would meet with general support in Parliament, as it is known that the Municipalities of a large number of important cities and towns in the Commonwealth aire acting similarly to this Council in the matter.

The concluding paragraph may have some reference to the remark that was made bv the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I hope that the Government will take this matter into consideration, and will endeavour to meet the wishes of the City Council and of the various municipalities interested.

Mr Page - Surely the honorable member would not ask the Federal Government to become subservient to the municipal councils?

Mr JOHNSON - I do not suggest anything of the kind.

Mr Page - That is what is suggested in the letter.

Mr JOHNSON - Nothing of the kind. The letter merely asks that a consultation shall be held in order to avoid any

Supply[28 June, 1906.] (Formal). 829 clashing. It is only reasonable that the municipal councils should ask to be consulted with regard to the erection of the poles, so that the ratepayers they represent may not be subjected to unnecessary inconvenience.

Mr Page - That is what is being done now.

Mr JOHNSON - If that be the case, no ground of complaint could possibly exist.

Mr Page - I received a letter similar to the one read by the honorable member, and interviewed the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Brisbane, who showed me clearly that the municipal authorities were consulted.

Mr JOHNSON - I have no personal knowledge of the subject. I was asked to bring the matter under the notice of the Government, and I trust that some mutually satisfactory arrangement will be arrived at.

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