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Thursday, 15 June 1989
Page: 4167

Senator PANIZZA(9.12) —I must follow up on what Senator Alston had to say about this 008 telephone number. When it comes to getting a fast buck or a fast vote, the Australian Democrats are pretty good learners. Last week they did not know what a 008 number was. They thought that if a call went into a government department the tab would be picked up by Telecom Australia. Senator Powell could not answer that last week. Senator Alston was pointing out that we were simply putting the facility in that Bill so that Telecom would be prepared for any request by a department to have such a number. The Australian Democrats knew nothing about it. When we pointed out to the Democrats that remote areas as well as closer areas have to have access, we were immediately told by Senator Powell to use the reverse charge facility. I explained at the time that reverse charge calls cost far more than 008 numbers, but they still would not have it.

Having done their homework since last week and having found out that putting in a 008 number is not an engineering feat of great significance in this day and age, they now have the hide to come back with the hypocrisy to tell us that they have thought about it going in and that every department has to have it. I know that every department has to have it for long distance calls from remote areas. As has been pointed out both in the press and in this chamber, every State except Victoria seems to have this facility. Perhaps Victoria is all built around Melbourne and has not got any remote areas. The Democrats are being very hypocritical. The idea is all right but, as has already been pointed out, the costing must be done. They wanted the costing done last week. Let us do the costing, get on with the game and show it to them.