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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1840

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - J will not delay the House. However, I would have thought that the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) would have had the courtesy, if he was so interested in this matter, to let me know that he intended to speak on it. If he had done so 1 would at least have had an opportunity to give him a reply.

Mr Adermann - A message was sent to you.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No message was sent to me. I knew nothing about this matter before 1 walked into the House. I will find out what I can and give the honourable member that information in the House tomorrow night. I am not aware of the situation in respect of the Nambour post office. I assume, in trying to get some impression from what the honourable member said, that we have lost a site. We do not acquire the sites. We have a lot of difficulties because we are not able to acquire the sites; it is done through another department, which was the system under the previous Government. This is one of the defects that a Postmaster-General has to put up with. This may well be the problem in Nambour; I do not know. But the honourable member should not blame it on the poor, unfortunate Director in Queensland, alleging that he is inefficient and not able to cope with the situation - which is what the honourable member is implying.

Mr Adermann - No, it is not.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, it is, because it is his responsibility to do these things. This is not the first occasion on which the honourable member has stood up in this House recently to malign people and to indicate there is something radically wrong all of a sudden with the Postmaster-General's Department. It is quite ridiculous to suggest it was facetious to say that a telephone cost $20,000. The honourable member said that tonight. It is the fact. It is one reason why there is so much trouble with the economics of the situation. The honourable member's Party provided certain telephones at great expense just to buy votes. The former Government spent that money and I am still saddled with the consequences of that Budget. We are running at losses - enormous losses which mean we can never get an economic return - and now the honourable member is saying what a dreadful tragedy it is. Most of the honourable member's submissions to me have concerned commercial and business telephones. I will indicate tomorrow night the record concerning him. He is only a new member and is entitled to some leniency. I had permitted him to proceed on the adjournment debate 2 or 3 times thinking he might improve in his submissions but I have found that they are getting worse and are put on the basis that now somebody sinister has the job of Postmaster-General and that this can cause untold damage to him. That is not the case at all.

Mr Adermann - I am not frightened.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Nor should you be frightened. But let us be fair and reasonable about it. The honourable member got up in the House one night and said he would submit a medical certificate in order to get a telephone. I shall tell him tomorrow night, I think, that it would cost some $7,500 to install. But if the Department is to spend all that money in that particular section, what is it to do about the 2,500 people in the queue in Brisbane and those in other areas? Where was the planning of the Liberal-Country Party Government? What did the previous Government intend when it knew that these growth centres existed? Why did not the former Government allocate the funds? It was elected on that policy. Looking at that particular policy, was it not put on the basis that there was some particular association with automatic exchanges? Was it not the real policy? How did it come about? Was it because some graziers' association in Queensland - not this Parliament - decided in June 1970 that it would be the policy? That became the policy, with the disastrous financial results about which the honourable member for Fisher is complaining this evening. There is insufficient capital and increasing debt loads. The Government has now had to set up a royal commission to try to find some better way of managing the structure of the organisation, yet the honourable member walks in here tonight, without telling me one word about it, and asks why cannot a post office be erected in Nambour. I can find out the answer tomorrow by ringing the director in Brisbane. I will give the honourable member the answer in the adjournment debate tomorrow night.

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