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Tuesday, 11 December 1973
Page: 2624

Senator YOUNG - My question is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is he aware that it is impossible to dial emergency numbers on the red telephones, that is, those telephones placed in stores, cafes, hotels, etc., without the use of coins, unlike public telephones installed in normal telephone boxes? Is the Minister also aware that after all other instructions on these phones it states in very small print: 'For emergency service- and all other calls- see the proprietor'? Does the Minister know that some proprietors are not aware of what is required to make emergency calls on these telephones? As these calls are made in times of crisis and with a need to avoid delay, will the Minister take steps to have red phones altered so that emergency calls can be made without the use of coins? Can instructions be spelt out clearly in a prominent position to avoid confusion and delay in making such calls, the lack of which has, on some occasions, caused great distress to many people in such a situation?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I well recall the situation when the previous Government entered into a contractual arrangement with, I think, Victa Ltd for production and distribution of these red telephones. When in Opposition we were critical of the then Government for entering into the types of contractual arrangements which were entered into. If my recollection is correct, it was pointed out by way of an urgency motion that this facility, which is complained of by the honourable senator, would not be available on the red telephone. I do not know what can be done about the matter now. It was drawn to the attention of the Parliament three or four years ago, if not longer. If I remember correctly, the former member for East Sydney, Mr Devine, drew it to the attention of the Parliament. However, I shall refer the honourable senator's question to my colleague the Postmaster-General. I am sure that if anything can be done it will be done.

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