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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator HENTY - On 19th May Senator McClelland asked whether, because of defects, the computer system at the Government Printing Office in Canberra was unable to communicate with the computers in the States. Doubtless he was referring to the installation, operated by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, which is temporarily located in space at the Printing Office in Kingston. The answer to the question is " No " because the form of communication which was planned when the contract was let in 1963 was by interchange of magnetic tapes and the acceptability of tapes between the computers has been proven beyond doubt in the Canberra installation, which includes a computer of exactly the same type as those to be used in the State Capitals.

It may interest honorable senators if I were to give some further information about the installation. The contract placed in 1963 for an amount of £2.14 million provided for a network of six installations to be located in Canberra and in each mainland State Capital. The work to be processed on these machines included that of the Bureau and other government departments. The central unit in Canberra was installed in June 1964 and has become progressively operational since about September 1964. The installations in the States are proceeding according to plan, that in Sydney is currently being tested, and the Melbourne machine is at present being installed.

Whilst there is no evidence either of faulty installation or of technical defects in the system and no additional sum has been spent, or is to be spent, to rectify any fault of installation or technical defect associated with communication between the computers or of any other kind it is possible that, in relation to the amount of £600,000 that was quoted in the question, there has been a misinterpretation of confidential information. In fact, some additional expenditure of the order of £600,000 has been approved for equipment comprising magnetic tape units, printers, card punches and some additional storage, to enable the basic system in the States to carry out more work than was originally anticipated, particularly for the Taxation Branch.

Sitting suspended from 9.20 p.m. to 9.30. a.m. (Wednesday).

Wednesday 26th May 1965 (continuation of sitting of 24th May).

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