South Brisbane and the automatic telephone

Year: 1923

by Maurice Little   


The people on the southern side,
Are feeling most elated,
So where you will, you’re bound to hear
Their new Exchange debated;
It’s sure to be a handsome place,
The P.M.G.[2] declares it,
What is cost to governments,
The meek taxpayer bears it!
But what delights South Brisbane most,
And makes them most ecstatic,
Is that their telephones will soon
Be changed to automatic.
Ah, then they all will rue the day,
They yearned for modern fashion,
And on their varnished instruments
Will turn with horrid passion!
Just when they seek some city man,
To buy their chaff or timber,
The “Thing” will jib and round they’ll go,
From Oxley to Bulimba;
And every time it puts them through,
To “double six” or “four three”,
Although they sought the numbers not,
It registers the bawbee![3]
Oh! Sydney has no honeyed word,
For automatic ‘phoning,
Since ‘neath the burden of their bills,
The suburbs all are groaning;
There’s nothing like the good old style,
Whose fruits we long have tasted
And if, perchance you use strong words,
Your language is not wasted!

                                       E. Maurice Little, Daily Mail (Brisbane), Monday 30 July 1923, p8.  


[2] The PMG, or Post Master General’s department was the government owned predecessor to Telstra.

[3] Bawbee was an old Scottish coin, about a penny and a half. He’s saying they charge the customer even if there is a mistake.