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Wednesday, 16 March 1977
Page: 301

Mr BRYANT (Wills) -The point that the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Sainsbury) raised of course is important- the enormous obligations that will flow from the increase in the size of Australia's territory as a result of the application of the 200-mile zone. I am always intrigued when I find a member of the Liberal Party talking about morality in the international sense. That is the last thing Liberals ever bring to any of their international dealings. I rose this evening to make a brief comment upon the Australian Telecommunications Commission. I am one of its customers. Like everbody else in this House, I am one of its victims. I was going to say that it is one of the more inefficient of Australia's public utilities. Perhaps it is one of the most inefficient. Perhaps 'inefficient' is not the right word; 'insensitive' is the one I would use. I am the proprietor of a telephone in this city. On Thursday of last week it was discovered to be not ringing in. I was not surprised when nobody telephoned me- there were no problems for which I was responsible- but I found that other people were disappointed that they were unable to raise me on the telephone.

That was on Thursday of last week. On Friday I checked out the telephone and found that it did not ring in. So I advised Telecom. This was at about 8 o 'clock in the morning or a little earlier. I suggested that if a Telecom representative could come within the next hour or two I could be there to let him into the house and if the instrument were faulty it could be fixed. Telecom could not do that; it was impossible. After all, what is a few hundred million dollars profit when it comes to servicing a customer! Subsequently I raised the matter with Telecom continuously. Today my staff raised it with Telecom. Yesterday my staff raised it with Telecom in Melbourne, but unfortunately no one is available before 9 o'clock in the morning. You know, Mr Speaker, that members of the Opposition, in trying to cope with the eccentric behaviour of this Government, have to start early enough to try to save Australia from its aberrations; so none of us will be home after 9 o'clock in the morning. I think it is a downright disgrace that one of the great public utilities of this country, which is one of the most expensive utilities of this country, should be so bereft of its public duty as to be unable to compete with the other utilities in this city in the service that is supplied.

As I have pointed out to the people of Telecom on other occasions, they live in a city in which if anyone has a need for a public service- electricity, water, the fire brigade or even the policethere will be somebody there quick and lively. I think it is disgraceful that we allow this situation to continue. I hope that honourable members opposite will start to pressure the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) to accept his responsibilities instead of turning all the resources of his Department to the business of knocking off other people's radio sets.

Mr Baillieu - You should never have made it into a commission.

Mr BRYANTI think that one of the great disasters of the change to a commission is not so much that it removed it from parliamentary responsibility but that it allows the Minister to pass the buck. I have raised the matter with his office staff, who of course are courteous in the extreme, and I take it that something will happen in the next month or so to restore my telephone service.

I want to raise another matter now. It is the insufferable impertinence of the Indonesian Government which is implicit in the demand that we silence a member of the parliamentary staff in what he considers to be his duty and in the pursuit of knowledge associated with his duty, even while he is on furlough. I do not think it is a question of whether Mr Dunn is right or wrong; it is a question of all sorts of decent international morality and our own decent national dignity. I think that our man in Jakarta betrayed his duty to this country when he accepted the protest and transmitted it to Australia. When the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Peacock), as I understand it, in this House today gave his answer in such an equivocal way I think he also betrayed his duty. Mr Speaker, I hope that you will look into the question of whether this has a potential for interference with the rights and the duties of the staff of this Parliament and that the Indonesian

Government is told that we regard its action as an impertinence. I know that there are some honourable members opposite who think that the Indonesians have rights in Timor. Even if they think Indonesia has rights in Timor, it has no right to interfere with the activities of an Australian citizen. I regard it as a piece of insufferable impertinance flowing from the craven attitude of this Government to the actions of the Indonesian Government in Timor.

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