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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2451

Mr DUFFY (Minister for Communications) —by leave-The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure report on Telecom Australia's zonal and charging policies in rural and remote areas-`Poles Apart'-was tabled in Parliament on 20 November 1986. The inquiry was headed by the honourable member for Calare (Mr Simmons) and received a total of 600 submissions. Public hearings and public meetings were held in many country centres in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania as well as Darwin, Perth and Canberra.

The report forms the second phase of the work of the Committee on Telecom's zonal and charging policies. The Committee's earlier report, `Ringing in the Changes' which dealt with metropolitan and near metropolitan areas, was tabled in the Parliament on 4 October 1984. I tabled the Government's response to that report on 15 November 1985 and, in doing so, pointed out that the new zoning arrangements proposed to be introduced by Telecom would require up to two year's preparatory work. Telecom has now advised me that planning has been substantially completed and the preparatory work is well advanced. Details of the changes and implementation will be announced later this year.

Telecom is in the process of finalisation of its consideration of the latest report and I expect that the Australian Telecommunications Commission will come to a final view in May 1987. The Government's response to the Committee's report will be tabled in Parliament as soon as possible after that time.