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Wednesday, 28 September 1949


Mr FRASER (Eden) (Monaro) . - Speaking to the motion for the adjournment of the House last night, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) repeated certain statements concerning the publication of a list of numbers of Canberra telephone subscribers after the installation of a new telephone exchange. A full and effective reply was made to him last night by the Minister (Mr. Calwell) representing the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron). I have some knowledge of this matter, and I wish, therefore, to make some observations on it. Three principal charges were made by the honorable member, each one of which was completely untrue. In making the first charge, he said -

The only list available of new telephone numbers as the result of the erection of a new telephone exchange was one published by the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party.

It is not true that the only list available was one published by the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party.


Mr Harrison - I did not say that. The honorable member should read the report of what I said, and not try to twist my remarks.


Mr FRASER - I know exactly what the honorable member said. He made the original statement in the course of a question, and he repeated it last night when he said that the only available list of new telephone numbers was the one published by the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party. That is completely untrue. Lists were supplied, not only to the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party, but also on the same date to the Canberra Times, the Canberra Chamber of Commerce, and all those who were connected with, the new automatic telephone exchange. In his second charge, the honorable member said that Labour party candidates had obtained a list of the telephone numbers, including " silent numbers " before it was issued officially, and had published that information.


Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister for Information said that himself.


Mr Calwell - No.


Mr FRASER - The honorable member for Wentworth can squeal as much as he likes - I am telling the truth. The list published by the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party does not contain one " silent " number, and I defy the honorable member to show that it does. Therefore, his statement on that point was also completely untrue. The honorable member's third charge was as follows : -

On the day that a list was issued to other persons a list was issued to the Australian Labour party, which was thus given an unfair preference. The party then printed and issued it as pre-election propaganda. It was only after repeated requests had been made by interested parties that several clays later copies of the list were made available to the Canberra Times and the business community.

That statement is also completely untrue. The fact is that the list was published hy the Canberra Times on the 6th September. It was not published by the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party until the 7th September. There is not an atom of truth in the statement, that the list was published by the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party before it was available to other parties. It is true, as the Minister pointed out, that by inadvertence two " silent " numbers appeared on the official list issued to various organizations. The only published list containing the two " silent, " numbers was that published by the Canberra Times. The list published by the Canberra branch of the Australian Labour party contained no " silent " numbers. It is to be regretted that it has become almost a custom to describe a contemptible and untrue statement as a " Harrison ".







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