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Wednesday, 13 December 1911

Senator MILLEN - I cannot say that; hut it will mean, not merely 300 miles of road carriage, but 300 additional miles of road carriage. The people of the district referred to have been getting their supplies from Port Darwin round by Borroloola, and if this vessel is withdrawn from the service, they will have to get them via Camooweal from the nearest Queensland railway terminus. I am not quite certain of the distance to Camooweal, but the withdrawal of this boat will add 300 miles to the present road journey, which cannot be less than 300 miles, so that what these people will be asked to do will be to bring their supplies over 600 miles of road carriage. That will represent so heavy a handicap that I hope I can appeal successfully to the Government to declare that the subsidy shall continue until they have had an opportunity to thoroughly revise the whole system of mails in the Territory, and to consider every circumstance necessary for the successful occupation of the country.' There is another matter to which I shall briefly call attention, and which I referred to on the last Supply Bill ; that is, the inspection, or lack of inspection, of telegraph poles. Honorable senators may remember that, from information published in the press, I brought under their notice a mishap by which the life of a line repairer was lost. The local coroner at the time passed stringent comments upon the failure, of the Department to take what he regarded as very necessary precautions to secure the safety of these men. The Go'vernment then said that an inquiry would be made into the whole of the circumstances, not merely of that particular accident, but the whole question of the examination of telegraph poles. I "should be glad if, during the discussion of this Bill, the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral in the Senate would state what has been done in regard to this matter. For the credit of the Post and Telegraph Department, it should not be allowed to rest where it is. The statements made in connexion with the accident to which I referred were so serious as to justify the belief that if similar negligence had been dispayed by a private employer, a charge of manslaughter would have been launched. That being so, in order toclear the matter up, and for its own credit, the Post and Telegraph Department should introduce a more effective system of inspection, and I am sure the Senate 'will appreciate a full statement from the Minister concerned as to what the Department is doing in connexion with the subject. '

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