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Thursday, 19 September 1974
Page: 1235

Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Following his statement that the Government is negotiating to buy the coin telephones known as red phones, can the Postmaster-General say whether negotiations are now complete and, if so, what price was paid? Will the Government convert these red phones so that emergency calls can be made without the use of coins, inability to do so having in the past caused so many problems?

Senator BISHOP - The honourable senator will appreciate that because the negotiations are proceeding- on, I am told, a satisfactory basis involving quite harmonious discussions- I could not reveal at this stage the cost of buying the assets of the 2 companies. The honourable senator will recall that in 1963 when the LiberalCountry Party coalition Government decided that it would make this arrangement with the 2 private companies, it was done on the basis that it was a sensible arrangement because it would conserve the resources of the Post Office. But it has been conclusively proved in the meantimethe Post Office has insisted upon this being considered by the Government and the Government has agreed- that it is properly the function of the Post Office and so the negotiations have now commenced. There are about 20,000 telephones involved. I understand that one company is almost ready to complete the arrangements and that the other company is favourably considering them.

In reply to the last part of the question about the triple-0 services, Senator Young asked this question on a number of occasions before I became Postmaster-General. It is certainly one of the objectives of the Post Office, having acquired the telephones, to attempt as quickly as possible to make those facilities available through the socalled red phones. Senator Durack asked me a number of questions about the matter in writing and I mention his name in connection with it. But perhaps I also ought to mention that the other advantage in taking over the red phones is that presently, as everybody knows, it costs about $lm to maintain our telephones in public places because they are often damaged by vandalism. The red phones are somewhat protected because they are in private places. I think that the move has been well received generally and I hope to be able to provide specific answers to Senator Young's questions at a later stage.

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