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Tuesday, 6 April 1965

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) [1 0.42J. - I shall direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) to the speech made by Senator McClelland. It is a fact that this afternoon I gave an answer to a question on notice asked by the honorable senator and supplied him with certain information on this matter from which he has quoted. One needs to be a little careful in making comparisons between information gleaned by the honorable senator last August and that supplied to him today. I should like to reserve judgment on this matter because in matters of this kind one must be careful to compare like with like. To give point to this statement I remind the honorable senator that the answer given to him today stated that applications outstanding totalled 93,067 and it added -

Of these applications, 50,000 are in the process of being satisfied.

Senator McClelland - But what does that mean in length of time?

Senator ANDERSON - If the honorable senator accepts that statement given under the signature of the PostmasterGeneral, this automatically reduces the figure from 93,067 to 43,067. So 1 say at the outset that before the honorable senator makes comparisons he should be satisfied that he is comparing like with like. 1 caution him not to draw too many conclusions without very careful analysis of information that the Postmaster-General may be able to give him.

The inference to be drawn from the honorable senator's statements is that New South Wales is lagging behind the other States in the provision of telephones because the figures for that State are substantially greater than those for the other States. But who would be prepared to compare the figures for New South Wales with those for Victoria? One has only to look at the geographical size of the two States to realise that New South Wales is four or five times bigger than Victoria.

It is quite proper for the honorable senator to put his views into " Hansard " on the motion for the adjournment. I shall see that the attention of the PostmasterGeneral is directed to his statements without delay and I am certain that the Minister will be able to demonstrate to the Senate and to Senator McClelland that a tremendous effort has been made to solve the problem of applications for telephones. All honorable senators have this problem referred to them. The telephone is an amenity people like to have. But we also know that the whole of the national Budget cannot be directed into one particular field.

While the Postmaster-General's Department has had great assistance through loan funds and budgetary allocations, it has to work to a budget just as does every other department. I am sure that when the full story is told the picture will not be as grim as the honorable senator has painted it and will reveal that an outstanding effort has been made to catch up with the lag in telephone installations, particularly in New South Wales.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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