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Wednesday, 1 May 1957

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- I wish to say a few words to-night about telephone facilities, particularly in relation to my own constituency. Answers given to questionssince this Government came to office show that many people have been waiting for upto ten years for telephones. I think thehonorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) a few weeks ago in this Parliament brought a very striking, case to the attention of the Minister and a telephone was. promptly provided. I congratulate thehonorable member for East Sydney upon-, his success. When all is said and done, ten years is a long time to wait for anything, particularly for telephone facilities. The other day a woman came to me in my electorate and said that she had been waiting: for a telephone for about eight years. Many people have been unable to obtain telephoneservices for years and have been greatly inconvenienced thereby.

These remarks apply not only to telephones being used for private purposes bur also to those required urgently for business purposes. As honorable member know, the absence of a telephone in business makes it practically impossible to give efficient service. In my own constituency, in a section of Marrickville, there has been a great extension of industry. Practically even day I receive numerous complaints frompeople who are unable to obtain telephones to carry on their business. The Government has said that it is doing everything possible to provide telephones. Last year, after the Government had promised to provide telephones for this area within twelve months, I found that no provision had been made in the Estimates for additional works in the area. It would appear that the Government has no special plan. I do not blame the officers of the PostmasterGeneral's Department. I believe that the position is due to lack of planning on the part of the Government. In view of the urgent need for telephone facilities by business and private interests, peo le should be able to get relief in less than two years. Delays of eight years, ten years and longer should not occur.

I do not know what the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) has in mind with respect to these matters, but I point out that in Marrickville and Newtown industrial areas of my constituency tremendous inconvenience is caused by the lack of telephone facilities. No doubt there is a shortage of public telephones also. In many parts of the country new post offices could be erected with advantage both to the public and those who are employed in the present buildings. The Government should be able to build additional exchanges. Plenty of equipment must be available abroad or at home. I think that the Government's inability to provide telephone facilities immediately is due to lack of planning. The excuse that equipment or cables are not available is not acceptable. It cannot be contended that the present position is an aftermath of the war, because the war ended just under twelve years ago. When this Government got into office one of the promises that it made to the Australian people was that it would relieve shortages. There is still a shortage of telephones and there is still a great demand for them.

I understand from the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) that the

Government is making a very substantial profit in the Postmaster-General's Department. I am not averse to profits being made by this great socialist enterprise. We can all be proud of that. But some of these profits might well be set aside in order that facilities may be made available to the average person. People who want telephones to-day must want them urgently. They are a luxury because of the increased cost occasioned by this Government's policy. The needs of the people who are prepared to pay the amount of money necessary for a telephone service must be so great that their cases must be really deserving.

Therefore, I ask the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) to bring to the attention of the Postmaster-General the inadequacy of the facilities available. There is a need to erect additional exchanges. There is a need to see that businesses which employ people have the telephone facilities that are necessary. There is a need to see that those people who have been waiting almost a generation for a telephone can look forward to receiving this little comfort in their lifetime. 1 hope that my voice will not fall on deaf ears. This is a most important and vital matter. I hope that this Government, incompetent as it is, will make a small contribution to the national welfare by providing funds for the provision of telephone services and bring to these people whom i have mentioned some satisfaction, even at this late stage.

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