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Monday, 17 September 1973
Page: 1097

Mr IAN ROBINSON (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The PostmasterGeneral is again not being truthful. The previous Government did not determine the rates at that time. No decision was made on the question of rates and he knows it.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It determined the weights.

Mr IAN ROBINSON (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A decision was made merely on what the metric gradations would be. I hope the Postmaster-General will, be honest enough to admit that. The role of the Post Office is to serve the community. It has had this responsibility ever since Federation. The Post Office has grown into an enormous organisation which employs something like 120,000 people. It spends annually an amount to the order of $ 1,200m. It is the biggest business in the nation. Yet we find this kind of approach which is lacking from every point of view. It is lacking from the point of view of seeing to it that a service is provided. It is lacking from the point of view of seeing that there is fair play and that there is good strong management so far as the Government is concerned. I refer to the industrial relations within the operation of the Post Office.

Of course, if we take the whole question of where we go in regard to the Post Office, we find that its future under this kind of government management is dim. We find that the escalation of costs in the space of 36 months would practically price the postal business out of reach of the ordinary person in the street. Certainly, it would put it beyond the means of usage for business purposes. A similar pattern emerging is that which has been described in relation to bulk postage charges on newspapers. This is no scare story to which I refer. This is merely what is spelt out in the facts as we see them presented in these Bills before the House tonight, related to the whole spectrum of Post Office financing. It is a picture which requires an approach by the Government vastly different to that which we are experiencing. It would have been proper for the Government to have agreed to some form of Treasury subvention to keep the present operation going at least until the commission had made a recommendation. Had it done so, the Government would have played fair with the Parliament and with the public. Had it done this is would have brought credit upon itself. But it has failed miserably to make an approach along these lines. I deprecate the action that has been taken. I certainly oppose the charges that are now envisaged. I look forward to supporting the amendment which will be moved in the Committee stage in relation to bulk postage charges.

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