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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr DAVIDSON - The honorable member's question is wide in scope and is directed to the whole of the department's policy for handling the great and increasing number of applications for telephone services throughout Australia. I shall have a. considered statement prepared so that the honorable member may be given an outline of the general policy adopted in meeting all the problems that arise. That is more than I could give him by word of mouth at the moment. However, I assure him that equity obtains between all States in this matter. No State is deliberately given priority over another. At the same time, consideration is given to the various factors which determine where telephone services shall be provided. The honorable member himself has mentioned two or three. Quite often there is a sudden requirement for telephones as a result of rapid expansion in country districts. It may be in connexion with war service land settlement, or some other type of land settlement. Suddenly, an area which has previously been lightly populated is developed, and additional telephone services become necessary. It may be that, in such circumstances, one State will get more telephones than another in a particular year, but I think that the honorable member will agree that that is only reasonable.

A special problem is posed by the rapid business and industrial expansion that is taking place in some areas, especially those outside of Melbourne, about which some of my colleagues have been seeing me lately. The sudden development of a new suburb means a great deal of extra work in the provision of new services. In all cases, the department specially investigates the problem, and does what it can to meet the needs created by the new development. It must also be realized that demands for new services must be considered in the light of the outstanding applications that are already with the department. One cannot ignore the rights of such people, or the length of time since their applications were submitted. The department does its best to expend equitably the money that is received from the Treasurer each year, and is anxious to give everyone as fair a spin as possible. That is the general position, but I will try to give the honorable member more detailed information with regard to Woodville and Port Adelaide.

Mr Makin - Will the Minister also look at the position in the new satellite town of Elizabeth?


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