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Monday, 17 September 1973
Page: 1105


Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - I wish to move an amendment to clause 5 of the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1973. I move:

Omit the clause, substitute the following clause:

5.   The First Schedule to the Principal Act is repealed and the following Schedule substituted:-

SCHEDULE 1

Sections 6, 6a and 6b

Part I-ordinary Rates 1. Letters, lettercards and postcards- the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

2.   Category A publications and Category B publications, where the articles are posted -

(a)   by the proprietors, printers or publishers of the publications to bona fide subscribers, and to newsvendors and agents for the purpose of sale; and

(b)   by newsvendors and agents to bona fide subscribers, and to other newsvendors and agents for the purpose of sale, subject to such conditions, if any, not being conditions that are inconsistent with the regulations, as are determined by the Postmaster-General, relating to -

(c)   the manner of packing and marking the articles; and

(d)   the arrangement of the articles so as to facilitate their sorting, and to compliance with the regulations -

(e)   in the case of Category A publications - an amount calculated, in respect of the articles posted by any one person at any one time, at the rate of -

(i)   One and one-half cents for each article or

(ii)   Seven cents for each twelve ounces or part of twelve ounces of the aggregate weight of the articles, whichever is the greater, but, where the amount so calculated includes a fraction of a cent, the amount to be paid is the next higher amount that does not incude a fraction of a cent;

(f)   in the case of Category B publications that are posted for local delivery - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the rate of -

(i)   Two cents for the first two ounces or part of two ounces; and

(ii)   One-half of a cent for each additional ounce or part of an ounce, but, where the amount so calculated in respect of the articles posted by any one person at any one time includes a fraction of a cent, the amount to be paid is the next higher amount that does not include a fraction of a cent; and

(g)   in the case of Category B publications that are posted otherwise than for local delivery - an amount calculated, in respect of each article, at the following rates: -

(i)   where the weight of the article does not exceed two ounces- Two and one-half cents;

(ii)   where the weight of the article exceeds two ounces but does not exceed eight ounces - Two and one-half cents, together with One cent for each ounce or part of an ounce in excess of Two ounces;

(iii)   where the weight of the article exceeds eight ounces - Eight and one-half cents, together with One-half of a cent for each ounce or part of an ounce in excess of eight ounces, but, where the amount so calculated in respect of the articles posted by any one person at any one time includes a fraction of a cent, the amount to be paid is the next higher amount that does not include a fraction of a cent.

3.   Category C publications, where the articles are posted by the proprietors, printers or publishers of the publications or by a newsvendor or agent, subject to such conditions, if any, not being conditions that are inconsistent with the regulations, as are determined by the Postmaster-General, relating to -

(a)   the manner of packing and marking the articles; and

(b)   the arrangement of the articles so as to facilitate their sorting, and to compliance with the regulations - the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

4.   Registered books, and Category A publications and Category B publications posted otherwise than as specified in item 2 in this Part, subject to compliance with the regulations - Seven cents for the first six ounces and Six cents for each additional six ounces or part of six ounces.

5.   Articles that are not articles to which item 1, 2 or 3 applies - the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

Part II- AIR Mail Rates

Articles posted by air mail - the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

Part III- Priority Paid Mail Rates

Articles posted by priority paid mail - the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

Part IV- Bulk Postage Rates

1.   Letters, Iettercards and postcards - the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

2.   Articles that are not articles to which item 1 applies - the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

Part V - Minimum Agreed Bulk Postage Rates

1.   Letters, lettercards and postcards - the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

2.   Other articles to which subsection (3) of section 6b applies - the rate ascertained in accordance with the following table: -

 

The amendment seeks to reinstate the old postage rates for periodicals, newspapers and books. In my contribution to the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill I announced that the new charges which would be imposed as a result of newspapers moving from category A to category B and of category B items moving to category C in 1975 would place an enormous burden on newspapers and periodicals in country areas. This amendment, which seeks to reinstate the rates which were formerly in existence, will give people an opportunity to see more clearly just how vicious an attack is being made upon the operations of the media throughout this country and upon the circulation of information and news to people throughout the community, especially those who live in country areas. Unless a reasonable increase is imposed many small newspapers in country areas will virtually go out of existence because the subscribers to those newspapers will not be able to afford to pay the postage rate which in many cases will be in excess of the actual value of the newspapers.

The periodicals which many cultural and technical institutions and community organisations circulate are all that holds those institutions and organisations together. I am afraid that they will be forced out of existence because of the imposition of these very

 

 

high rates. I am not saying that there should not be any increase in the rates charged. I think there have to be increases periodically in order to keep abreast of changing circumstances and conditions. But I do not think anybody could for one minute say that an increase over a 3-year period of more than 500 per cent is fair and reasonable. It is obvious, even from the comments of the PostmasterGeneral himself, that this is a deliberate attack on a section of the media. It is actually throttling the survival of many of these little institutions which need to have an independent voice to be able to express their opinions, to help educate people or to expose the operations of this Government. I have never seen a debate in this chamber which so vitally affected so many people and yet we did not have one speaker from the Government side. Not one.


The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes (CORIO, VICTORIA) - Order! If honourable gentlemen wish to continue to interrupt they will only be wasting the time of the honourable member who is trying to address the Chair. That is something that should not be tolerated and I ask them to be quiet.


Mr ANTHONY - It is a sad sight when supporters of the Government, particularly those coming from rural areas do not have the intestinal fortitude to be able to rise and say their piece on behalf of these organisations to which I have referred. I look around the chamber and I see the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen), the honourable member for Patterson (Mr O'Keefe), the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) and the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) all prepared to sit back and be lackeys to their own party philosophies. They seem to want to see that independent expression in their areas is suppressed completely. I hear an honourable member ask: 'Who owns the newspapers?' I think that they are owned by a multitude of people throughout country areas. The insinuation that those people are supporters of the Country Party and that that is the reason why the Government has throttled the newspapers and put them out of business is a real indictment upon the Government and the Labor Party. That is exactly what the PostmasterGeneral has said.

I hear the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) trying to interject. It is interesting to hear him say that we are squaling because our form of media will be put out of business. This is yet another indication that this is quite deliberate. It is an arbitrary decision which is discretionary and aimed against a section of the media and against country people. It is quite clear that this Government does not care one iota about country people and is wanting to reduce free expression in the country as much as possible.

Until the Government can come forward with some reasonable proposal for increasing charges in these areas, the present proposals will be opposed by the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament. This Bill represents a vicious, arbitrary attack on a section of the media and a section of the community. It is for these reasons that I have moved this amendment to clause 5 of the Bill reinstating the present rates. I ask that the Government reconsider its attitude and be a little more reasonable and humane in the interest's of people who are Australians, just like any other members of the community, and who have the right of access to educational, technical or cultural facilities and newspapers in order that they can be as well informed as other people and will not have to rely entirely upon the mass media of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for their information.







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