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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1870

Senator DONALD CAMERON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Labour and Immigration) -Has the Postmaster-General seen a report in the 'Canberra Times' called 'The Cost of Vandalism'? It makes specific mention of the problems caused by vandalism to public telephones. Can the Minister given any details of what his Department plans to do to overcome this problem?

Senator BISHOP -Recently I told Senator Drury that I had recommended to the Post Office that it consider a new and more national campaign against such vandalism, which seems to be growing. The latest estimate I have of the effect of these destructive actions is that this year it will probably cost about $2m to repair the telephones. The Post Office has agreed to conduct later in the year a national campaign to bring to the attention of the public generally and to subscribers the need to assist, where they can, in protecting public telephones of which there are, I think, over 30,000. In recent years the Post Office has been considering a number of modifications which would help to reduce vandalism, including strengthening the metal of the telephones and the introduction of some alarm system. This was one of the reasons why the Government has been negotiating to take over the Red Phones. Those telephones are kept in protected places whereas public telephones are subject to all sorts of attacks at times. Of course, that is a bad thing because when people want to use the emergency services often they are not available.

The latest figures I have show that in Melbourne and Sydney sometimes about 1 5 per cent of public telephones are out of order. When the campaign is run the Post Office will do what it can and I know that the Minister for the Media will do what he can to illustrate this point. It will not only mean a saving but also will be of great assistance to the people in the community who use those telephones for emergency services.

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