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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 600

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - When the Senate was last discussing the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment on telephone directories, which was last Thursday, I had been indicating the course of action which had been taken by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) and the Postmaster-General's Department in the light of the recommendations which had been made by the Committee. I had referred to the first 2 recommendations of the Committee and outlined the action which had been taken. I propose to continue on the same course.

The third recommendation of the Committee was that the emergency services be listed prominently on the inside of the front cover and that, where a directory contains listings for more than one telephone district, the emergency services for the main centre or centres in each district be shown prominently on the inside of the front cover of the directory. I have been advised by the Postmaster-General that effect will be given to the first part of the recommendation in all telephone books and that that effect will be given progressively. Paid advertising appeared on the inside front covers of many country books up to and including the 1971 issues, but as from 1972 onwards advertising will not be permitted on the inside front covers. As regards the second part of the recommendation, the number of centres for which emergency services subscribers can be shown is governed by the size of the cover and the number of automatic exchanges included in the book. Main centres only will be shown where the space will not allow all of the centres to be shown. No real problems have yet arisen in deciding which exchanges are to be omitted from such a list, but as more exchanges become automatic this decision could cause some problems.

The fourth recommendation of the Committee was that capita] letters be used to indicate the commencement of each section of the instant call guide. I understand that action to give effect to that recommendation is taking place. The fifth recommendation was that instant call guides be extended to all directories, including country directories, wherever practicable. Again I have been informed that the Postmaster-General's Department is giving effect to that recommendation.

The sixth recommendation was that a State map be included in all metropolitan and country directories. The PostmasterGeneral's Department has included a State map in the Perth and Adelaide directories and in the directory of Tasmania, which includes the Hobart area, but no map yet appears in the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane directories. The reason for the different approach State by State is that the 3 books in which the maps appear were books which formerly covered the whole State and the maps were included when the books were split into sections as part of a general education programme. Inclusion of the maps in the other 3 capital city books is a decision yet to be taken. The decision in that area could be guided by the opinion survey which is about to be conducted in the Australian Capital Territory. A State directory area map appears in all country directories except for 2 in New South Wales, but even in those 2 directories a map appears on the back cover. In the 1973 issues the map will go into the information pages of those 2 books which at present do not include any map.

The seventh recommendation was that the use of 2 colour printing, in conformity with the practice adopted in the 1971 metropolitan issues, be extended to the information pages of all country directories. I have been informed that this is currently being given effect' to. The final recommendation was that, in order to test public reaction, one of the metropolitan directories be printed in serif type in 1972. I understand that the information pages of the 1972 Sydney alphabetical directory were printed in serif type. It is intended that a public reaction survey be' conducted later this year to ascertain what opinion is to be found in relation to that type. It is a matter of subjective opinion whether the present type is more satisfactory than that which was earlier used.......

I think it may be said that the. exercise which the Committee engaged in produced recommendations to which attention has been given. The actions I have outlined have been taken. Consideration of the recommendations in respect of ' which no action has been taken will lead to their implementation if that is considered appropriate. I should say that, following the presentation of this report, the 1972 issue of the Canberra telephone district directory incorporated most of the recommendations of the Committee, together' with some other innovations on the initiative of the Post Office. The 1972 Canberra district directory is the first issue which. covers the Canberra telephone district solely. Prior to that issue the Canberra district exchanges were included in a directory covering the Goulburn and surrounding districts. Perhaps the major change from the former traditional layout of the directory was the splitting of the information pages. What was regarded as essential information common to all subscribers, such as the index, the instant call guide and STD area codes, was placed at the front of the book and promotional material together with 'how to call' instructions for subscribers connected to particular exchanges were moved to the end of the alphabetical section of the book. In addition, the 2 sections of the information pages were printed on green paper. Emergency call numbers were printed on the inside of the front cover. A map of New South Wales telephone directory areas was placed on page 5 and the back cover, in addition to enlarged maps of the area covered by the Canberra district directory. Considerable attention was paid to providing as clear and comprehensive an index as possible.

I mentioned earlier that it is planned to conduct a full scale survey in the Canberra district in the next few weeks to test subscriber reaction to the changes. As a part of the preparation for the full scale survey, a pilot survey of some 50 subscribers was undertaken recently and some minor amendments were made to the proposed questionnaire as a result. The officers of the Postmaster-General's Department conducting the pilot survey reported a very low level of interest in the subject of telephone directory information pages on the part of those subscribers interviewed. That conforms with what the Committee found when it proceeded to examine this very important subject.

Many of the features recommended by the Committee have been included in other directories. These include State directory area maps, exhortations to users to use the index, printing of emergency numbers on the inside front cover of books and extension of the use of instant call guides. I think that reflects the interest which the Postmaster-General's Department has taken in the report of the Committee. I am sure that all honourable senators have found the report and its recommendations a salutary example of how the Committee system may or may not be used.

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