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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1493

Mr LLOYD (Murray) - I would like to make a comment on this paper.

Mr Bryant - You took a bit of stirring.

Mr LLOYD - That is rather unfair because I have been trying to ask a question on this matter since Monday. Over the last 2 or 3 days, I have been attempting to submit a proposition to the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) and the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on this question. To me, the proposal is something that we could call decentralisation of authority - and I hope that this turns to be correct - but centralisation of personnel. With management efficiency, as in many other cases, the only person who does not seem to be considered is the consumer. I fail to see how it will be in the interests of the public that in many cases the person who has to use these facilities and who has the problems associated with them will have to go many miles further to find somebody who can make a decision.

To give an example in my area - I believe there would be many others like it - Shepparton is the largest city in northeastern Victoria. Its rate of growth is the most rapid in that part of the State. It has the largest telephone traffic. It has a switching station. The centre will be moved to Benalla, which does not have a switching station. Benalla is a smaller centre with not as much traffic. Actually the change would appear to be against the main flow of traffic which is south to Melbourne. What is more, Benalla is in a separate geographic region. For the Shepparton area, the Goulburn Valley and right up to Balranald in New South Wales the contact would not move across in this direction to Benalla.

I thank the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) for the opportunity to discuss this with him and with the new Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Victoria. This gentleman assured me that movement of personnel would be a slow process and that as many as possible would be kept in their original centres. I hope this will turn out to be true. I certainly will be keeping a watch in my area to see that this is so. One piece of comfort in this paper is in that part which states:

In addition, improved customer advisory service will be provided where such facilities are currently available and as the need arises these will be established at other centres.

I certainly hope that some of these advisory centres will be established and that at them there will be people who can provide information and make decisions affecting the consuming public. One part of the paper that causes me concern is that part which states:

A similar study of the activities associated with post offices and mail services in the country is in hand and it is planned that these services also will be reorganised into a postal area management system.

To me this is rather a dangerous thing. I would hope that if something quite as radical as that is being proposed members of this House would have a better opportunity to study the matter. If the reorganisation of mail services means the same as the reorganisation of telecommunications activities I doubt whether the service in the country areas will be improved. Evidently the reorganisation is already in band in relation to telecommunications activities. To me it is quite dangerous to think that at some future time we will be presented with something similar in regard to mail services. That would be the worst sting in the tail of this reorganisation. I reiterate that I am not at all happy about the way in which this reorganisation is being carried out, but I thank the PostmasterGeneral for his courtesty in allowing me to discuss this matter with him and the other gentleman.

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