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Tuesday, 24 November 1959

Mr MAKIN (Bonython) .- This week I received a communication from an association in the new area of Elizabeth, in the Bonython electorate, expressing concern at the lack of telephone facilities in the area and at the inability of the PostmasterGeneral's Department to keep pace with the development of the area. The time has come when we must speak in forthright fashion to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), because he sets the policy in regard to these matters. I do not question the ability of those who administer the affairs of the department in places such as Adelaide, because I know that they are faced with many problems. I know that there is a great demand for telephones throughout my electorate. In certain parts of it people have had to wait an inordinate length of time for a service. In many cases that wait has been caused by lack of materials, such as the necessary switchboard equipment. It is quite evident that those responsible for setting the policy of the department have been seriously at fault and have not had sufficient vision to forsee the needs of a growing community such as Elizabeth.

I am sure that the people in my electorate who have been waiting a long time for a telephone service will be incensed when they hear that a bookmaker at Randwick has been able to obtain three telephones for use in his business, whereas people in places like Elizabeth, who may require urgent medical attention or may need to summon a vehicle to take a maternity case to hospital, must wait a great length of time for a telephone with consequent inconvenience and even danger. The residents of my electorate have asked me to bring this matter to the notice of the Parliament so that their representations may be adequately and fully ventilated in this House. They feel that the House will not be satisfied with some palming-off explanation by the Postmaster-General, such as he gives in answer to questions. The honorable gentleman must realize that this kind of thing cannot continue indefinitely. We need some long-range plan to deal with this matter. Perhaps we could have a joint policy formulated by both parties in an endeavour to solve the problem. I hope that those who are responsible for planning within the Postmaster-General's Department will exercise greater vision than they have exercised in the past. I trust that the Government will make the necessary finance available so that essential equipment may be obtained in order to provide the community very speedily with the service that it desires.

As I have said, I cast no reflection on those officers of the department who are labouring under great disabilities in administering the affairs of the department; but I ask that some effort be made on the part of the Government to meet the needs of the people who require telephone services.

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