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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3011

Senator PUPLICK(1.24) —In making a few remarks on a matter of public interest I want to move very much away from the contentious matters which have been raised before the chamber so far today and in fact take the unusual step of congratulating the Australian Postal Commission on one particular part of its activities; that is, its production of Australian postage stamps. Each year since 1981 Australia Post has produced in a very beautiful book a collection of Australian stamps. The book comes complete with the details of the stamp in question-the technical details of the stamp, the technical details of the printer and of the engraving, and details of the designer of the Australian stamp. There is some background about the matters and designs featured on the stamps, together with the actual stamps themselves which are provided separately but are to be inserted in the relevant pages of the album. This has been a novel undertaking by Australia Post and it has, I think, been a very great credit to it. Not only has it been a very great credit to Australia Post but among serious philatelists the albums have become something of a significant collectors item, to the extent that the first of these books, which was published in 1981 and which went on sale in Australian post offices for, if my memory serves me correctly, around $19, can now be purchased only through stamp dealers and those interested in selling it, and its current value is in the vicinity of $90 to $100. That is a fairly substantial capital gain in a period of four years.

The collection for 1985 is the best collection of Australian stamps that has been produced in any one year, and I want to say a few words in congratulating Australia Post and drawing attention to a few things which appear in the 1985 collection. It is clear that the quality of printing of Australian postage stamps has improved out of all recognition in the course of the last five or six years. Honourable senators will undoubtedly recall the fiasco which occurred in 1979 when one of the stamps in the Australian train series had to be reprinted, and it was reprinted using a colour different from that with which it was originally issued. The difference in colour between the two issues led to a greast deal of financial speculation and a great deal of interest in that reprinted issue which should not have occurred because stamps in the one series should not be printed with two distinguishable colours.

However, in this year's collection there are a number of quite outstanding productions and these are important to the extent that for many people overseas knowledge of Australia and indeed knowledge of many foreign countries is very much obtained, particularly by children in the first instance, from postage stamps-from collections of postage stamps and from individual stamps, having the history, the animals, the geography and the colours of the particular country concerned. There are a number of stamps in the 1985 collection to which attention should be drawn. The first are those in the colonial military uniform series; a series of five 33c stamps printed se-tennant and designed by Pam Andrews. These are among the best produced stamps seen in Australia for many years. The second set to which I draw attention is again a series of five 33c stamps produced se-tennant showing classic children's books. The stamps were designed by Peter Leuvers and feature the stories of Elves and Fairies, the Magic Pudding, Ginger Meggs, Blinkey Bill and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, which undoubtedly are part of the cultural background of almost all Australian children. The printing and design of these stamps and the commemorative envelopes that go with them are amongst the best that have been seen. The excellent conservation series, which features stamps dealing with the conservation of the soil, of pure air, of precious water and of energy resources, again is indicative of the sort of interests which are significant in the Australian community. Six stamps were produced this year in the second of the marine life series, again part of the illustration of the quite unique flora and fauna which abound in Australia, and which our stamps reflect brilliantly. The collection, as always, contains an Antarctic series and Gary Emery, the designer of this year's series, has produced five stamps in that set. Antarctic stamps tend to appreciate very rapidly in value; the first mint set of Australian Antarctic Territory stamps, which had a face value of less than $2, now sells for well in excess of $25. There have been a number of exciting philatelic developments this year as far as the Antarctic is concerned. The work of Project Blizzard involving the restoration of Mawson's Hut, the operation of the Oceanic Research Foundation, the agreement of the Commonwealth to provide special post markers for the Commonwealth Bay base and the involvement in Sydney of my own stamp dealer Robert Kennedy, and his colleagues in the Oceanic Research Foundation are producing a wonderful new interest in Antarctic developments.

I want to draw attention particularly to two series of stamps which appear in this year's collection. Again they are stamps designed by Garry Emery, and they are part of the Australian bicentennial collection. Last year the first part of the bicentennial stamp collection, known as the First Australians, was issued. This year there are two sets of stamps in the bicentennial collection. The first is a series of stamps featuring early Australian explorers and it is produced not only as four quite wonderful separate 33c stamps-again it is an excellent piece of printing done by Cambec Press in Melbourne-but also as a miniature sheet, which is quite unusual for Australian stamps. The stamps are a significant contribution to learning about the history of the early explorers. That series was followed later in the year by another Emery-designed set of stamps showing artefacts taken from significant Australian coastal shipwrecks. Those, together with the First Australians series, make up part of the bicentennial collection which will run to a number of volumes. That collection is also being produced separately by Australia Post and the stamps, in terms of their historical value, will be of great interest not only to collectors in Australia but also to people overseas.

The final ones to which I draw attention are this year's Christmas stamps, designed by Scott Harsthorne and printed by Leigh-Mardon Pty Ltd in Melbourne. The series features five stamps which have an extraordinarily unique combination of woodcut drawings by Albert Durer and modern Christmas decorations. As somebody who has been a long time and fairly serious philatelist, I have had a look at this year's Christmas stamps from around the world. Many thousands have been produced and I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that this collection of Australian Christmas stamps, in terms of their design, in terms of their execution, and in terms of their printing, must rank as one of the two or three very best series of postage stamps issued for the 1985 Christmas season. The designer, Mr Harsthorne, and the printers deserve enormous congratulations for the concept of the stamps and for the quality of their production.

Australia Post is one of those institutions which from time to time get a thorough kicking from both sides of the chamber. Very often it deserves that thorough kicking but equally, when it produces a volume such as that which it has produced this year for its 1985 collection, when it produces postage stamps which are a credit to it, to the designers and to the printers and indeed which reflect very well upon Australia as a nation, it is also deserving of some congratulations. Seeing that this is the time when we are supposed to talk about matters of public interest and it is generally accepted that philately is the largest single hobby practised anywhere on the surface of this planet, this is a matter of public interest and I think Australia Post and all those who have been associated with the 1985 collection should be congratulated for a job extremely well done.