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Tuesday, 17 July 1906

Mr MAHON (COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

1.   Is he aware of the wide-spread use of the telephone by rural settlers in' America, as indicated by the following extract from a letter to the London Spectator of 12th May : - "We have a ' farmers' line ' connected with our summer home, a farm in Eastern Massachusetts, for which we pay 18 dollars yearly. At all hours of the day or night we can talk with fifteen other families without calling up the ExchangeOffice. Every forenoon at about n o'clock all subscribers are called to listen to the weather forecast, and perchance to any news the obliging clerk may wish to communicate. On a recent Sunday morning he attached a gramaphone and gave us, free of charge, a so-called sacred concert. Much town business is now transacted by telephone " ?

2.   Would not the initiation of such a system here render country life more attactive, reduce the congestion of our chief cities, promote rural settlement, and consequently induce greater and more vigorous development of the primary industries of Australia ?

3.   What steps, apart from extending the condenser system, is the Department taking to popularize the telephone in the country districts?

4.   Was not Mr. Hesketh instructed to make special inquiry, during his visit to America, as to the facilities afforded in that country to settlers in rural districts to become connected with the telephone system?

5.   Has Mr. Hesketh submitted a report on the subject ; and, if so, will the Minister see that copies of the document are circulated among honorable members ?

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