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Tuesday, 18 October 1983
Page: 1882

Mr CHYNOWETH(10.45) —I rise this evening to bring to the notice of the House the financial burden which is directed to many residents on the Mornington Peninsula because of the high charges imposed on them by Telecom Australia for the use of an essential tool for living in the 1980s, the telephone. I draw to the House's attention to the annual report of Telecom Australia. Honourable members will see that on the cover there is a picture of which I am quite certain psychologists could make something. There is a fairly abusive-looking gentleman and a frightened telephonist. No doubt the gentleman is a constituent of mine from Mornington Peninsula complaining about his telephone bill.

Over the past six months I have made several representations to the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) on behalf of the thousands of concerned constituents in the Flinders electorate regarding Telecom charges. The Flinders electorate adjoins the metropolitan zone of Dandenong and appears to me to be in an anomalous situation whereby the Dandenong area is included in the metropolitan charge zone and the Flinders area is not. Subscriber trunk dialling calls from Melbourne to the Red Hill and Rosebud zones are charged at F rate, that is, a day rate of 52c for three minutes, which covers a distance range of 50 to 85 kilometres as measured from the Melbourne General Post Office. I have pointed out that to use the GPO in Melbourne as the centre point for distance measuring is incorrect because the GPO no longer represents the population's centre of gravity. Telecom's argument is that once a measuring point has been established it cannot be changed.

I fear that Telecom has missed the point. I do not propose that the measuring point be moved but rather that the metropolitan zone charge area be increased to encompass areas that perhaps were once rural but are now urban and in some cases even suburban. It is time that Telecom acknowledged that the population of Melbourne has increased over the past decades and therefore demographic change has occurred. Areas that were once rural are now areas from which residents commute daily to the city centre to work. Such areas are Mornington, Dromana, Red Hill and Hastings. It is not realistic to suggest that the Flinders electorate is still a seaside holiday resort. Perhaps it was 20 years ago but it is not now. It is, in fact, emerging as a dormitory suburb of Melbourne. It is a beautiful and pleasant place to live and from which to travel to one's place of employment.

Telecom has tried to hedge its responsibilities by outlining the benefits the Flinders electorate has received through the Access 80 program. Although it is pleasing to note that the reduced Sunday rates introduced from 23 January 1983 allow residents, and especially pensioners, in the Rosebud and Red Hill zones to telephone families and friends in the Melbourne metropolitan zone at reduced rates, that does nothing to assist them with calls that need to be made during normal business hours. When one considers that most business calls out of this area are made from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., this concession does nothing to assist the business people on the Mornington Peninsula. Therefore, I again ask the Minister to review the situation with Telecom, bearing in mind that the Mornington Peninsula is a large growth area and has undergone considerable demographic change in the last decade. Again I ask that the Melbourne metropolitan telephone zone be increased to include such areas as the Flinders electorate, where now many Melbourne workers reside and to which, in fact, many people, especially pensioners, have moved from Melbourne to enjoy the unique environment of the area. They are denied proper contact with their loved ones because of high costs.