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Tuesday, 14 September 1971
Page: 1229

Mr TURNBULL (MALLEE, VICTORIA) - My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Does he recall that last night in the House I advocated that all rural telephone subscribers be granted the privilege of local call charge, where at present it does not apply, to their nearest centre where medical and general facilities are available abd that it be irrespective of zone boundaries? Does he know that this would give them only a fraction of the privilege now enjoyed by city subscribers in regard to telephonic communication? Will he give this suggestion consideration?

Sir ALAN HULME - This is a matter that has received departmental and my own consideration for a lengthy period. There are problems associated with it. There are some people who have the requirement that he suggests but who, because the nearest town happens to be in the direction in which they do not want to make their calls, prefer- to go in another direction. They tend to insist that they be given this facility to the area of their choice or the town of their choice rather than to that which is nearest and which makes the facilities available.

Other problems associated with it mean that in many areas the distance would be over 100 miles and the provision of the facility is not considered reasonable having regard to other subscribers in the system. In addition this facility would mean a considerable increase in the capital required to provide additional channels. As the honourable member will appreciate, the resources available to the Post Office year by year are limited. In fact, last year we were unable, out of the resources we had, to meet the demand which the public made upon the Post Office and the same situation could develop this year!

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