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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4393

Sir ALAN HULME (Petrie) (PostmasterGenera!) - I am. rather surprised that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) should raise this matter at this, point in the parliamentary sessional period.. I made a statement on it in September and another in October. Since then 1 have not had one question from honourable members opposite in relation to any aspect of the matters which were included in those statements. I believe it is fair to say that there has been no request from the Opposition to the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) -

Mr Stewart - I rise to order. The PostmasterGeneral is a member of the Government that allows only one question to back benchers on this side of the House every 9 days.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Chair has no control over the number of questions asked in this House concerning the PostmasterGeneral. Therefore 1 do not uphold the point of order.

Sir ALAN HULME - I was commenting on the fact there had been no questions directed to me in relation to either of those statements on area management since they were made in September and October. Is this to be an indication of the real interest of honourable members opposite in this matter or are we to remind ourselves that 2 or 3 days ago there were sitting in this House and consulting with a large number of members, as is their right, representatives from the Post Office unions. Representatives on the unions sent to every member large screeds of Untruthful comment on area management. These representatives have been consulting with honourable members opposite and it has pleased honourable members to back up what has been said to them by representatives of the unions with a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.

Mr Speaker,1 do not know how far you would allow me to go in relation to this question of area management, but it did seem to me that the. honourable member for Dawson was allowed a good deal of latitude in discussing this important proposal. I believe the statement which 1 made in October was a pretty clear indication of a slow process of implementation, giving every opportunity to the staff to make representations and giving every consideration to the staff during the process. It is very easy for the honourable member for Dawson to raise all sorts of bogies in relation to the problems which may or may not develop. But, as 1 said* in my last statement on this matter, practically every member of the staff who will go from his present location to an area centre will in fact go of his own choice.

Mr Whitlam - 1 rise to order.

Sir ALAN HULME - When did you arrive?

Mr Whitlam - I have been in the House for an hour and a quarter.

Sir ALAN HULME - I thought about half a minute in this debate.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to raise a point of order?

Mr Whitlam - Yes. Mr Speaker, you ought to be at least as severe on the. Minister in keeping him to the question of the suspension of Standing Orders as you were with the honourable member for Dawson. They both have transgressed and you have pulled one up. You ought to pull up the other. If the Postmaster-General wants to debate the matter, let him agree to suspension of Standing Orders and debate the merits.

Motion (by Sir Alan Hulme) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Original question put:

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