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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1838

Mr ADERMANN (Fisher) - Due to the respective numbers of the Parties in the House and the fact that I believe the Speaker has very fairly tried to allot questions according to those numbers, it is a little difficult for members of my Party to ask many questions because, in effect, we are able to ask one question in every 6 that are asked. I have been attempting to address a question of some urgency to the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen). Today, when I felt that I might have had an opportunity to address the question to him at question time, he was not present in the House. 1 do not want to be unfair. He might have a very valid explanation for this. But I hope the Government will realise the importance of question time to backbenchers who are so regularly precluded from asking questions because of the applica tion of the gag.I hope that Ministers will endeavour to be present to allow backbench members in particular at least an opportunity to ask questions.

The matter about which I wanted to ask my question is so important that I feel I must now speak in the adjournment debate to ventilate it. I refer to the planning and construction of a new post office at Nambour in Queensland. The previous Government had received deputations and made inspections and had agreed that the present premises were antiquated and totally inadequate. A promise was made by that Government to acquire a site and to complete plans for a new post office in this financial year which is fast running out. I believe that construction was to be undertaken in the next financial year. We were assured that the present Government would proceed along the same lines and adhere to the same program. I believe that this was a specific promise by the PostmasterGeneral. Accordingly, a site tentatively was chosen in an excellent position in Currie Street, Nambour. But the owner of the premises became frustrated by procrastinations by the Postmaster-General's Department and by the fact that the Department just would not indicate when it would proceed. It would not resolve the question of price. There was a great saga of indifference, indecision and dillydallying by the Department.

Property values in Nambour are rising rapidly and finally the owner sold the site and premises to another purchaser. The seller, through legal advisers and through every other available channel, just could not obtain any satisfaction or answers from the Department. Now the site is lost. I lay the blame fairly and squarely at the door of the PostmasterGeneral's Department. As the local member, I have been unable to find out any details of the intentions of the Department. I believe that this is a shocking state of affairs. I have learnt everything I know about the matter from estate agents. They tell me that some time ago an inspection was made of other possible sites. But apparently, the Department is still proceeding at the same pace and with the same indifference. These sites also will be lost unless the Department takes meaningful action to honour its promise. Can I be blamed for coming to the conclusion that it now appears that the promises and the expressed policies of the Government cannot be taken seriously? What can I believe in the matter? 1 am happy to see that the PostmasterGeneral has entered the House. Quite frankly, I want some answers. I want to know what is being done in the matter. Is he aware that in Nambour, where development is proceeding so rapidly, a site must be acquired quickly because they are so few that Nambour is missing out all along the line. For 6 months I have been trying to get my parliamentary office shifted from Brisbane to Nambour. I know personally how difficult it is to obtain sites and premises. I hasten to assure honourable members that I do not blame the Department of Services and Property. It has worked very hard to assist me. I appreciate this. The remarks that I make tonight are not meant as criticism of that Department. I have received cooperation and I believe that we might be getting somewhere. However, I raise this matter as an example to show the Postmaster-General that the longer there is a delay in this area the dearer will be the price and the more difficult it will be to acquire a site. It is not stretching the position to say that it might be impossible to acquire an adequate site.

I want to know what the Department is doing. Will the Minister tell me? I believe that as the elected member I have a right to know. I saw some statements in the local Press some months ago to the effect that the Department was to proceed on the original site, was to stop the sale and was to implement the acquisition of the site. I asked the Director of Posts and Telegraphs about this development and he said: 'Yes, that is right'. I believe that planning had been done on that basis and that this planning could be completely wasted and useless if, because of the delay and dillydallying, the site has been lost. I want to be told something that is concrete and something that I can believe. I want to know when an announcement will be made. As a member, I object to having to find out crumbs of information by quizzing estate agents. I object to this blanket of silence. Why should this be? 1 hope that this case does not reflect the Government's attitude to members who are on the Opposition side of the House.

I am worried because we have spoken before on matters which involve the PostmasterGeneral's Department and about which we are very concerned. I have written a number of letters, both to the Department and to the Minister, who is aware of the scores of representations that I have made. Members of my Party have asked questions and have spoken on these matters during adjournment debates. I believe they are relevant. We country people are beginning to know the score because we have seen reduced mail services, the closure of post offices and the impossibility of obtaining country telephone connections. We are aware of the chaotic telephone conditions on the Sunshine Coast. It is not a question of economics. The Minister said in this House - I hope that he said this facetiously - that it is cheaper to buy a farm than to connect a telephone to it. I assure him that that remark was noted in country areas and that country electors will not forget it.

Another matter which I wish to raise is the serious delay in the opening of the Maroochydore post office. The building of this post office has been delayed because an underground spring has been tapped and water cannot be kept from seeping through the floor. I do not blame the Minister for this. I am aware that it is an engineering problem. However, I hope that he will tell us now what the position is, what is being done and what remedies are being taken. I hope that the Minister will not leave it to us to guess the answers. Can he give us a timetable for what will be done in that area? All the Department in Queensland said to the Press was: 'No comment'. I ask the Minister strongly and sincerely to say without prevarication what is happening in regard to the Nambour post office. We want to know whether the whole project will be pushed back another year or longer. Will the Minister tell us when we can expect some movement and when the construction stage will be reached? My electors and I want to know when action will commence. I ask the Minister to keep me fully informed on this matter because I believe that that is my right and that is what the electors expect of me.

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