Thursday, June 09, 2011

One for the telco history buffs...

I'm fond of quoting (after Ann Moyal) the observation that while the amalgamation of the posts and telegraph offices at federation would occur he had heard no argument in favour of it.

Garran and Quick in their history of the constitution point out the original drafting of the post and telecommunications powers related only to the international aspects (quoted in the Glassen report)

Thanks then to PM&C secretary Terry Moran for a speech to the Eidos Institute on federalism that included;

The South Australian politician Richard Baker, in an 1897 pamphlet advocating the federalist cause, commented that most supporters of union between the colonies cited its ‘patriotic and sentimental advantages’.[1] Aside from these, he enumerated no fewer than 17 other benefits. The first was that it would prevent war between the colonies; the second that it would allow for a common foreign policy. Not only that, it would prevent strife within the colonies. ‘A strong Central Government would ensure domestic tranquillity, and outrages, which have in some cases amounted to almost civil war, would be put down by a strong hand’.

Some of the advantages he cited now seem quaint. ‘Greater economy and efficiency would be insured in the management of the postal and telegraph departments, no doubt ultimately resulting in a penny postage and a sixpenny telegram’, he wrote.

So there we have in an 1897 pamphlet an argument advocating for the national post and telegraph power on the basis of the cross-subsidy and universal service. This was the eighth of Baker's 17 advantages.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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