The Evening Star MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 1915.
The rem&Tlta-ble deficit in the Australian postal business last year A —£618,000, and an' esSatlsfactory timated dcficiit of Service. £859,000 for the current year —serves as a lever of comparison to lift the- more satisfactory system in New Zealand into clear and convincing prominence. Of course, the Dominion's Post and Telegraph service is not comparable to that of the Commonwealth a« regards extent and Complex difficulties of control, but it is highly .satisfactory to note that New Zealand manages to make a commercial .success of an important department of IS t ate. The business of the department is not only financially .satisfactory, but continues to extend .steadily a.t the highest standard of improvement. The most notable features last year wtw the excess (£96.606) of receipts over expenditure, and the large extension of telegraphic ;>nd telephonic facilities. Tim balance of receipts over payment* last financial year w«ia the lowest during- the past 10 years, but this was due. lo the activity in effecting extensions and improvements at a higher cost. Annually since 1904 the department has shown a completely satisfactory financial record, the total credit balance in 10 years being £1,047,219. The. position in Australia is not considered, and should not be deemed, alyriuing. for conditions ■throughout the Commonwealth a-re very different from those existing in \mv Zealand; but there is certainly justification for the pertinent questions raised by Austral iau journalists as to why tiw [tosla-l service cannot he made to pay its way. Many explanations and excuses have been made by way of reply to the abnormal deficit, which threatens to increase rather than promises to deciea.se. It is interesting to note that most of the blame, if the word he peimNsibie, is thrust upon meddling politicians. One critic says, with re Ire-shin candor, that the mischief has not been so much in the quality of Postmasters-General (several of whom are characterised as having been extraordinarily weak) or iu the absurdity of their fads and prejudice?, but it is to bo found. in their number. " .Since the establish- " ment of Federation there have been over "a dozen Postmasters-General, each "equipped with a different brand of en- " lightennie.nt or ignorance, each with a. ■" policy that seemed to mean the undoing "of the work accomplished by his pred-e----<!cessor. in order to make a fresh start "upon the only road lo certain success. *• What business can withstand fickleness "like this?" The question is unanswerable. No business could prosper exceedingly under nine different managers within 10 years, which, was the. extent of Ministerial changes in 1910 who.n the Postal Commission reported on the Commonwealth's postal besiness, and made no fewer than 175 recommendations, including a significant suggestion that the Post Office should be placed in charge of a board of management. The idea apparently wa? to limit the activity of enthusiastic Post mastersGeneral, who have passed in the Commonwealth like a procession, to matter* of policy and thus circumscribe the average politician's'eagerness for establishing departmental reform. So far the adtninivtrot.ivo authorities iu the Commonwealth have ignored the Commission's principal recommendation. New Zealand has been more fortunate: In Ihe admiidsl.rai.tve control of the Past and Telegraph Department, and unquestionably, a great deal of the success achieved during the past decade is atf ributable to the fact that only one change has been made in the Ministerial management. As a, matter of fact the foundation of success was laid down by Sir Joseph Ward, whose control of the Postal Department during his long term of office as Postma.ster-lieueial will be extremely difficult to excel.
Possible the. system in respect of telephone charges in Australia, has a lot to do with the huge delieit in the returns last year. The loss on the working of telephones alone, exclusive of interest charges, was £296.424. -while the deficit, the previous year was £221.000. Telep'hone "tolls" are levied in the Commonwealth, a -system which is not regarded by many telephonic officials in New' Zealand as conducive to extensive use of telephones, although it is regarded as being move equitable to users. The toli system checks what is known as ''social use" oi telephones in private residences, it having been noticed by officials familiar with both systems of charges that
" conversations" are more sustained and popular when the charge for private telephones is fixed annually, irrespective of use und (may it be said?) abuse. There -are many people in New Zealand, of course, who fancy that telephonic charges are still too heavy, hut it would seem that tlio system is preferable to tolls. It Is interesting to note that in New Zealand last year tho number of surrenders was 2,015, as against 7,621 new connections — an increase equal to 15.09 per cent. This demonstrates the popularity of telephones, and justifies tho authorities'.policy of extending the utility to outlying districts. It is conceivable that if charges were reduced profitable business would increase.
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The Evening Star MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 1915., Evening Star, Issue 15703, 18 January 1915