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Thursday, 17 October 1985
Page: 1391

Senator HAMER(12.40) —I rise in this debate to offer a very simple solution to a time-consuming and frustrating problem. I ask honourable senators: How often have they received a letter from a country area in their State and wanted to check the name and address in a telephone book, possibly for verification of the spelling, or else to answer the letter by telephone? How often have honourable senators pulled out, or had their staff pull out for them, all the country telephone books and begun the lengthy and tedious search to try to find out which telephone book corresponded to the post code in the letter? How often are they lucky enough to find it on the first go? How often have they had to search in book after book and gradually track down the STD area code by stealth or luck? I must admit that my staff have resorted in moments of stress to contacting the extremely courteous and capable telephone switch staff who we are lucky enough to have in Parliament House. Even they have great difficulty with this exercise, although, I must say, they have always succeeded in the end, but at a cost in time and with a certain element of those symptoms which we try to avoid in this place-stress and frustration.

Before I came into the Senate today I checked carefully with the Department of Communications to see whether there was any document or service which combined or related post codes with STD area codes or if there was any reason why they should not be so related. In regard to the first query I was told that postal addresses with post codes in alphabetical order were contained in the back of all telephone books and that a service was available to find out STD area codes by ringing 0175 at any exchange. In regard to the second query, the answer was that there was no reason why the two codes could not be combined; it was only that no one had thought of it.

In that case I propose a very simple solution to this problem. Let the Department of Communications produce a booklet which lists the postal addresses in Australia in alphabetical order by State, or perhaps by the country as a whole, and which shows not only the postal code for each address, but also the STD area code. Because computers can readily reorganise lists into any format one desires, let there also be a list of post codes in numerical order, showing the corresponding STD area code and, conversely, the STD area codes in numerical order, showing the corresponding post codes.

Such a booklet would save stress and frustration and would repay every senator and member in parliament by a considerable saving of time. Besides, I think it could well be a best seller. Many other organisations, businesses and so on, must be suffering exactly the same problem. I am sure that the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) would earn the undying gratitude of the telephone staff in Parliament House. If the Minister can authorise his Department to produce this booklet before the end of this parliamentary session, I for one will promote it in every way I can. I now provide the Department with its first entry, selected at random in Vic- toria: Crossover, for which the post code is 3821, and the STD area code is 056. I had to find that out the hard way.